The fourth book of the bible, for which the entire book is called, the book of numbers, begins with the command, to count the entire congregation of the children of Israel, agreeing to their (tribal) families.
Our sages explain many reasons why G-d would want a census of the Israelites in the wilderness. One explanation, is to show His love for every individual, and by counting each soul, every person, this brought out the distinction to the unique mission and purpose of every individual, and gave the strength to carry it out.
There are many ways in which to count and take a census of a people. Every tribe could have been counted separately and then a grand total made of all the members of each tribe. Alternatively, every person could have been counted without any affiliation to any other associations. G-d in the bible specifically instructs the connection of the count to be made “according to their families.”
This portion in the bible is always read in the synagogues before the major Holiday - Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Ten Commandments. This command emphasizes the importance G-d attaches to the family, always, and especially as related to becoming a G-dly receptacle.
A family according to G-d in the bible, consists of two souls which are inherently two halves of one soul, who are very different from each other in their characteristics in their functioning and in their individualistic directions. When these two souls come together and are in harmony with each other, this accomplishes the new and greater personality and strength of a healthy family unit. Each one in their own uniqueness complements and perfects the other to create this most important unit – the family.
G-d commands Moses to first present matters of the Torah the “House of Jacob” which we are told is a euphemism for women, and only afterwards to the “children of Israel” which refers to the men. The women are, the HOUSE of Jacob, because they are the principle element and what defines a home. There must be the input of the woman, and the leadership of the man.
Abraham and Sarah, two different individuals, started the Jewish people when they came together and dedicated themselves to the same mission. “They called out – G-d is the Creator of the Universe.” They started together, the movement of monotheism. Abraham instilled the faith and belief in the men and Sarah worked with the women.
When G-d created the world, the combination of the first human existence, is Adam and Eve. “Male and female G-d created them and blessed them and conferred upon them the name – man” – i.e. human existence.
There is a reason why nature can only produce people through the togetherness of a male and a female. This important duo, isn’t just a one-time event, but the nature of every cell within a person. Every healthy cell includes and represents this combination to make and be a healthy person.
Children as they grown up need the environment and atmosphere of a father and a mother. The strength and leadership of the father and the softness and nurturing of the mother is the necessary balance needed to pursue a well-rounded successful satisfying and happy life. Any other combination as a setting for a child cannot raise healthy children, and is unhealthy unnatural and therefore ultimately counterproductive.
The desire for self-actualization, to reach the individual potential and get out of life all of its potential is only through the unit of the family when a man who is very different from a woman blend together – to form the family unit. The count of the people emphasizing “their families” is to teach us that a G-dly people is created, functions properly and is on its way to blessed things only when the family unit exists and fulfills its role.