Where I live, it happens once every five years. They come knocking on your door asking for your completed census form. Invariably you haven't finished or you've lost or poured coffee on your first copy, so they've got to come back all over again.

Who are these people and what do they do the other 59 months?

Contrast the attitude of the Bureau of Statistics to G‑d's approach...An army of nomads on short-term contracts tramp the streets of Australia delivering census forms and then collecting them a few days later. Tens of thousands of recent retirees and jobless people receive their brief burst of gainful employment and then slink away to await their next fleeting moment in the sun. It's fair to say that as occupations go, census collecting doesn't rate highly as a resume-builder, nor is the pay scale particularly generous.

The G‑d Squad

Contrast the attitude of the Bureau of Statistics to G‑d's approach to counting the Jewish people. To record the exact number of souls belonging to each family and tribe, He deputized Moses and Aaron, the best and the brightest of our nation, to go around collating information and recording data.

Moses and Aaron?! Surely they had more productive things to do with their time. They could have been teaching Torah to the masses or running religious services in the Temple, why waste their precious time and efforts filling a job that could have been done by any flunky? I can't imagine modern-day politicians door-knocking my neighborhood in person (though they do insist on phoning me just prior to the election to play pre-recorded political announcements).

Counting Souls

We can all become census takers for G‑dEvery Jew is infinitely precious. A spark of G‑dliness shines within us, and it is a privilege and pleasure to be chosen to minister to G‑d's nation. Moses and Aaron were uniquely qualified to appreciate the individual worth of every Jew, and to present this information to G‑d.

The opportunity to meet others on their own turf, to become involved in their lives and learn about their pains and pleasures, is a unique gift. We can all become census takers for G‑d, getting out among the people, finding out about their lives, helping them in times of sorrow and rejoicing in their simchas. There is nothing embarrassing about compassion, nor is it degrading to offer to help.

Don't wait at home till they come to you, but get out there with a clipboard to discover the wants and desires of your neighbors. If G‑d cares enough to ask, and Moses and Aaron in their time bothered to find out, surely we can opt in on that occupation and find out where the Jews are living, and what we can do to make them happy.