Take a census of the Gershonites also
Alternate: Raise the heads of Gershon’s sons also
These are the duties of the Gershonite clans as to labor and porterage
Alternate: This is the service of the Gershonite families: to minister and carry.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
In this respect, the Gershonite families occupied a middle position. … the Kehatites dealt with spiritual matters. Though the service of the Merarites was not intellecual work, when they were finished a house stood. … If the Merarites performed the heavy lifting, and the Kehatites dealt with important, exalted matters, what was left for the Gershonites? The answer is that the Gershonites carried everything in between.
For the Gershonites, it was easy to feel that they were not accomplishing anything … these people must be remembered, they must be uplifted …
Needless to say, this distinction between people is not limited to Kehatites, Gershonites, and Merarites; it can be applied to almost anyone. Some people are like the Kehatites who carried the holy Ark, and tend to gravitate to roles of this type in all their undertakings. … they know that they are going to do something special. … Others are like the Merarities; all they want is to be a decent person, a good worker, to do an honest day’s work and earn a living. They will never do anything out of the ordinary, because no one ever discusses matters of great importance with them. When a person does not aspire to great things, he can make for himself a peaceful, simple life. … he does not struggle with God in matters of faith.
The problem is in the case of the Gershonites. A Gershonite is not on such a level that he can put on tefillin in a state of ecstatic reverie. On the other hand, he is not of the simple people whose lives are without delusions and without pretensions. The Gershonites cannot do the loft work of the Kehatites, nor do they want to do it; on the other hand, they are not assigned the simple, menial work either. They are in the middle, torn between the two extremes. What happens to the middle person? He cannot live like the Merarites, because if he does so, it will eat him up inside. However, he is not really on the level of the Kehatites either. … They have enough authority and intelligence to cause a headache, but on the other hand, they do not have enough power to make major decisions. … give these people … a role. … Instead, the Gershonite must realize that his service will always include both service of love and service of carrying. … They were given this honor [of having their own parasha] because they suffer on both accounts. They suffer because they want to grow and they insights into profound matters, but they are unable to realize this or put their lofty aspirations into practice.
The essence of the Gershonites applies to mankind in general. A person has enough self-awareness to know that his is not satisfied with his lot in life. He is too corporeal to be an angel and too divine to be an animal. The significance of man as a unique creation lies in his imperfection, and it is on this account that God does not suffice Himself with angels alone. … God formed a creation that, from its very inception, has existed in a state of contradiction. … [God] sits on a throne of sighs, of those who say, “Master of the Universe, I am not on a very high level, but I still want to uplift myself.” These are the “praises of Israel” on which God is enthroned. … What man accomplishes with his torn inner self the angels cannot accomplish with all of their perfection.
May the LORD lift His face up to you and grant you peace!
the serenity of peace which is equivalent to an infinite, unbroken and undisturbed existence …
Rabbi Yehudah Leib
The point is that the blessed Holy One accepts our little bit of service as though it were much.
Shalom or shelemut, wholeness, is the inner point of truth. Within even the smallest bit of light, all is there. That’s why God is called
Shalom, for God is the wholeness of all. And when Israel have this wholeness, even a tiny point is considered a lot.