In this portion we begin the Book of Numbers. For about a year, the Israelites had been camped at the foot of Sinai, where they witnessed the revelation, built the Mishkan and were instructed in its operation. Now they are ready to resume the journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The people are organized into a military camp to enable them to undertake a march through hostile environments, both natural and human. The first order of business is a census of all males over 20, except Levites. The tribes are then assigned positions in a square surrounding the Mishkan. Finally, the Levites are assigned special duties in connection with the Mishkan and numbered separately. The physical arrangement of the camp will serve to remind the people on the march of the monumental events they have recently experienced. The Mishkan will become a mobile Sinai, and its location at the center of the camp will provide focus for the Israelites on their journey.