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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Count Me

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

Well, the book of Vayikra is behind us for now and we find ourselves in the desert, along with the Israelites as they begin to travel. There is much to be done before the travel begins and this wonderful Parshat BaMidbar describes in detail the placement of the tribes and lists their leaders. But even before all of this grand description (one can almost imagine the flags flying) comes the census. Moshe and Aaron begin their count of eligible males over the age of twenty. Not everyone was counted...I would not have been counted and perhaps you would not be counted, but nevertheless, the idea of a census is fascinating. We are numbers when we are part of the numbers of a census, but we are also a name and a set of characteristics. This poem is called "Count Me" and it measures who we are past the numbers counted.


Count me.

Ten fingers

Ten toes

100,000 hairs

900 sinews

4000 tendons

600 muscles

Count my teeth,

but only the real.

Count my wrinkles,

ever increasing.

Count my sweaters

green and blue;

count a lifetime of

mismatched socks.

Count the cans of tuna in the pantry,

the number of spoons and forks,

plants in the garden.

Count hours at the stove

at the sink

at the desk.

Count houses,

count miles.

Count the collections

of junk.

Count my GPA,

my IRA

my BMI, too.

Count my years

and my decades.

Count my words,

count my whispers.

Count my blinks

and my tears.

Count my heartbeats

and my breaths;

both numbers unknown.

Count my certainties

and my doubts

Count my worries

and my hopes

Count my daydreams

and night dreams.

Count my words

and my silences.

Count books read

and the books still on the shelf.

Count my accomplishments

and count my procrastinations.

Count my embarrassments.

Count my interactions.

Count my likes,

my dislikes too

Count my deeds

and my faults.

Count my steps.

Count my hours of work.

Count the pauses.


Count my truths

and my lies.

Count my days,

but not my nights.

Count my friendships.

Count my hugs.

Count my prayers,

my intentions.

Count my quirks.

Count my journeys.

Count what makes me human.

And count what makes me me;

more than a number.

Count me.

Here I am

One small speck in the counting;

a descendant of the


Count me in.

On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, י ה ו ה spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying:

Take a census of the whole Israelite company [of fighters]* by the clans of its ancestral houses,*its ancestral houses I.e., its tribes. listing the names, every male, head by head.

You and Aaron shall record them by their groups, from the age of twenty years up, all those in Israel who are able to bear arms.

(company [of fighters] NJPS “community,” trad. “congregation.” See the Dictionary under ‘edah.)

וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֛ה בְּמִדְבַּ֥ר סִינַ֖י בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד בְּאֶחָד֩ לַחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֜י בַּשָּׁנָ֣ה הַשֵּׁנִ֗ית לְצֵאתָ֛ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לֵאמֹֽר׃

שְׂא֗וּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ כׇּל־עֲדַ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם לְבֵ֣ית אֲבֹתָ֑ם בְּמִסְפַּ֣ר שֵׁמ֔וֹת כׇּל־זָכָ֖ר לְגֻלְגְּלֹתָֽם׃

מִבֶּ֨ן עֶשְׂרִ֤ים שָׁנָה֙ וָמַ֔עְלָה כׇּל־יֹצֵ֥א צָבָ֖א בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל תִּפְקְד֥וּ אֹתָ֛ם לְצִבְאֹתָ֖ם אַתָּ֥ה וְאַהֲרֹֽן׃

Numbers 1: 1-3

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