(Torah Portion Bamidbar) Everyone Counts!
The Holiday of Shavuos which will commence this Saturday night and continue through Monday night, commemorates G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai when He Proclaimed the Ten Commandments in the presence of the entire Jewish Nation. The Revelation could not take place until every single individual was accounted for.
From this commentators point out the amazing value of each and every Jew, and the great necessity of being counted as an integral part of the Jewish Nation.
The Jewish nation needs each individual’s personal role and contribution, as well as his function as part of the entire unit.
At the time of the Revelation it was absolutely necessary for the entire unit of the Jewish nation to accept the Torah in unison in order for the Torah to become binding for all future generations, which could only be achieved if the entire unit was present.
The Zohar – Kabbalah, teaches us an amazing idea of the uniqueness of each individual Jew. Each letter of the Torah corresponds to one of the 600,000 Jews standing at Mount Sinai at the Revelation.
Just as an incomplete or missing letter in the Torah invalidates it and it cannot be read publically, so too, it is necessary for each Jew in every generation to identify with G-d and His Torah to effectuate completeness of the nation.
The Book of Ruth, which is read on Shavuos, begins by relating that a nameless man left the Land of Israel to dwell in the decadent land of Moav. A few verses later the verse identifies this man as Elimelech. The question raised is why did Samuel the Prophet, who authored of the book, not state his name right away?
Rabbi Chaim Kanievski explains, when Elimelech left the Land of Israel, he tried to go incognito. He felt that his absence would not make a difference, and no one would notice he was gone. To reflect on these feelings, the verse left out his name. However, that was not the case. This wealthy leader’s absence from the community of Israel was sorely missed. Therefore the book then tells us who he was. One man’s absence indeed made a difference.
A little over a year ago, my uncle, Mr. Israel Lefkowitz passed away. He was an amazing motivator, philanthropist and visionary. His tall physical frame matched his expansive heart and creative mind which produced imaginative ideas and proposals. This far ranging talent did not obscure his ability to recognize the need of individuals.
Case in point: When my uncle heard that there were high school aged girls in the metro NY area who were having difficulty being accepted in Jewish schools, he called a meeting of all the principals and urged them to ensure that each girl would be enrolled. He also stepped up financially.
There was one girl, who had recently come from Israel intending to stay for only a short time. No matter how hard my uncle tried, he could not place her in a Jewish school. My uncle who was 81 years old at the time, told the girl to come to his home each day and for a few hours he taught her from a curriculum that he personally designed.
This arrangement lasted until he became ill and could no longer do it. He instilled confidence in this girl, who would have otherwise felt rejected and dejected. He told her that he would attend her wedding, wherever it would be held. This girl got married this week in Israel, and my aunt Shoshana traveled from NY to attend in my uncle’s place! This is the power of the individual.
This past week there was a massive gathering at Citi Field in Queens NY, where 42,000 observant Jews came to be inspired and listen to the guidance of our Sages concerning ways to prevent the ill and negative influences of the Internet from infiltrating Jewish homes.
I consider myself privileged to have been part of this gathering. Each individual present felt part of the tens of thousands who came for the sole purpose of adding and maintaining sanctity and purity to their lives and the lives of their families. Throughout the evening there were speeches, prayers, and singing. We were overcome by a wonderful sense of belonging to G-d’s sacred nation.
Over Shavuos we will have the opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are as individuals and as part of the unit of Israel, belonging and being part of G-d’s sacred mission!
Wishing you a joyous, peaceful,
and inspirational Shabbat and Shavuos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks