Rabbi Mitch's Weekly Teachings

May 22, 2015

 

The book of Numbers begins with a census of all Israelite men 20 years or older. The rabbinic consensus is that the purpose of this particular census was to figure out how many eligible men were available to fight as an army, as needed. However, there is another rabbinic interpretation that adds a spiritual emphasis as to why God ordered the census.


Rashi taught: “Because of God’s love for them, God is continually counting the Israelites. God counted them at the time of the Exodus and again after so many died at the time of the Golden Calf incident. God counted them to find out how many were left; and now when God was going to rest Her Divine Presence (Shechina) upon them She counted them again.” (The Shechinah refers to the primary feminine aspect of God that dwells amongst us.)
 
God’s Shechinah dwelled upon our spiritual ancestors as they traveled through the Sinai wilderness as they were rebuilding their closeness to God after a series of communal sins. God counts the Israelites because She loves them. After every communal incident when Israelites have died in the wilderness, God counts them in order to bring them under the wings of Her divine presence.
 
The Psalmist proclaimed that “God heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. God counts the number of stars; to each one of them God assigns a name.” (Ps. 147 3-4)
 
The link between the “broken-hearted” and “stars” is made by the psalmist.
 
Each human life is precious and needs to be specifically counted and made to feel valuable. Each human life generates a light that refracts itself like the stars.The precious human light burns eternally as part of God’s own Divine light.
 
This long weekend we commemorate both Yizkor (the traditional memorial service held on Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot) and our country’s Memorial Day.
 
Our responsibility is to count and recount the precious lives that eternally generate their own “star-light” within our world. As we count and recount the souls of our loved ones and the righteous, let us reflect upon their light and refracting our own luminescence. May God bind up their souls as part of Her eternal presence and Divine light that can always be found within our world.

Amen.

Shabbat Shalom & Chag Sameach
Rabbi Mitch

 

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