BaMidbar

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The Parasha of BaMidbar opens the book of Numbers (BaMidbar). There is no story in this week’s Parasha, mainly since it describes only statistics related to the Israelites traveling in the desert (Midbar).

The Parasha opens with the words: The Lord spoke to Moses… Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one… You and Aaron are to count… all the men in Israel…” and the commentators immediately ask why God needs Moses to count the Israelite for him? And furthermore, if God is infinite why does it matter to him how many Israelites there are?

The Zohar explains that when The Creator created Adam he created him in the shape of the upper and lower worlds and they all were included in him (“… בשעה שברא את האדם עשה אותו בצורת עליונים ותחתונים והיה כלול מכולם”). Meaning, Adam, before he sinned, was included of the whole Creation. The sin caused the Adam to be broken down into thousands of shreds which are actually who we are. In fact, all of us are parts of him. If all of us combined are one whole what is the point in perpetuating the division into tribes? Why Moses did not integrate the tribes immediately when they left Egypt? And the Zohar explains that any society or a human community has to be built of parts that are different from each other and that only that kind of collection of parts could combine a whole one.

We have to live in a community since we cannot supply our needs on our own, and the community we live in has to be varied so every part of it has a different role according to his unique talent. Hence, the Zohar explains, the world was created in a way that its parts are so different one from another, so we will need each other and from that egoistic interest we will learn to live in unity and mange to become a whole one once again.

The problem is that we tend to confuse unity with uniformity. Mostly, we desire everyone to be like us, to hold our beliefs and to think the way we do. Rabbi Ashlag explains that in order for wisdom to flourish we need to have a society, since wisdom is created out of discussion and debate. Compromise and concession guarantee anger and suffocation, and in a society that has no debates and people are afraid to say what they think and to stand for their beliefs, wisdom will dry out. We have to realize that allowing ourselves and our fellowmen fully to be expressed, while other listen, bear with no grudge or jealousy against and be compassioned about it, is the key for our existence.

The Parasha of BaMidbar is always being read before Shavuot, A day that, according to the Zohar, is the greatest day in the history of mankind, because we’ve managed to transform a state of separation to a state of “… and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain” (Exodus 19:2) as one, and that according to Kabbalists what lead to the revelation of Mt. Sinai. The moment we realized our goal was to reach a perfect unity without losing our individualism we were ready for Mt. Sinai revelation, and since that day we are all hoping to experience that moment once again.


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