The Sidra begins with instructions to count the Bnei Yisrael in order to see how many men they had to be able to go into the army to defend the people against the enemies. (Num. 1;1-3) In the opening words, however, we read that this was in the Midbar, the Wilderness and in Ohel Moed, the holy tent where Hashem spoke to Moshe. Why mention these two places?
It seems that was an important message to Moshe. You do not count only those people who have no direction or beliefs, symbolized by the Wilderness. You do not count only those who are symbolized by the Ohel Moed, who sit and learn and keep the Mitzvot. Rather you count anyone who is willing to go and fight to defend the Jewish people.
In our times we find a difficult confrontation between the observant and the non-observant Jews about who is defending and who is not defending the State of Israel. Some say they are strengthening Israel by study and others say they are strengthening Israel by giving money. Others feel they are supporting Israel by living in the land. There are all kinds of rationalizations about who is supporting the country and who is doing more for it.
From the opening verses of the Torah we see that who is counted, anyone who is ready to join the army and fight for the country’s survival. All other aspects are good and necessary. They are all important, but ultimately, what counts is being ready to give the utmost to fight for the people.