for Parshat Bamidbar
At the building of the Mishkan, the Tent where God will dwell, the people donate silver and gold and cloth and jewels. But they offer more than the builders need. And the builders say: Let the people stop bringing.
Later, the Levites will replace the firstborn as the nation’s priests. Each Levite will replace one firstborn son. But the firstborn outnumber the Levites. There will be firstborn left unaccounted for. So God says: let each additional firstborn offer a tribute, in his stead, to the holy work.
Before the Mishkan, before God dwells among the people, people are turned away.
Once God dwells among the people, even those turned away are drawn back in.
The difference between a nation with God and a nation that does not yet have God lies in how it deals with they who are left as the world goes on.