The parasha starts with the command to count the children of גרשון, Levi’s oldest:
The question is why say גם הם?
The children of קהת had been counted at the end of last week’s parasha:
And we have to say גם הם because we’ve already counted the Levites:
This count is different; it is only of the adults (ages 30 to 50) who serve in the משכן. גרשון is the בכור, so starting from קהת might indicate that it’s only קהת who will serve:
Why do I care? The midrash connects this parasha to the pasuk in Mishlei:
Counting קהת first shows the importance of Torah.
And the command to נשא את ראש בני גרשון literally means to “raise the head” of גרשון, and they needed to hear that:
But that only begs the question. קהת comes first because they carry the ארון, even though גרשון is the בכור. But why does קהת carry the ארון?
Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky connects this parasha to a story in the gemara:
And more than that, ר׳ זירא learns Torah from a little schoolchild, illustrating the principle of איזה הוא חכם—הלמד מכל אדם:
And this episode is a lesson in the fact that we need the intellectual humility to learn Torah from anyone:
And this connects to our parasha because גם הם implies more than just “also”. It implies “something more”:
בני קהת get נשא את ראש, but בני גרשון get נשא את ראש…גם הם because they are willing to forgo the honor due them from their בכורה and accept the Torah that is in the hands of their little brother: