“Each [tribe] by his banner, with ensigns of the house of their fathers, do the sons of Israel encamp; over-against round about the tent of meeting they encamp.” (Numbers 2:2)
We have mentioned often that the twelve tribes of Israel represent positive creative potentials in human consciousness, similar to archetypes that define and direct diverse aspects and facets of life, like paradigms inspired to manifest God’s will for the material world.
These potentials are not limited to activities such as being warriors, artists, healers, scientists, farmers, shepherds, water carriers, wood gatherers, leaders, teachers, spiritual guides or traders, but traits and trends with positive expressions in order to make goodness prevail.
These are necessary elements to integrate the diverse qualities of consciousness, not as limited expressions but as interactive forces that contribute harmonically to make life something worthy and meaningful. Thus we realize that goodness gives sense to life. The quoted verse states this purpose, pointing out that every tribe is commanded to settle around where God’s presence dwells.
Banners and ensigns are means to identify or to make a reference about something, and thus we realize that the tribes of Israel were different from each other. Warriors fight, while teachers instruct and leaders conduct, yet all can share qualities that mainly characterize each one of them.
We see it in the Torah, when the Levite spiritual leaders fought like warriors against the mixed crowd that revolted and erected the Golden Calf. Pinchas the priest led the war against Midian, and the members of a priestly family commanded the resistance against foreign invaders that we remember in Hanukah. Hence we understand God’s decision to elevate the Levites as His possession.
“And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn that opened the womb among the children of Israel; and the Levites have been Mine.” (3:12, 3:41)
This invites us to reflect on God’s decision to take the spiritual leaders among the children of Israel as His. The Levites represent the traits and qualities in our consciousness destined to guide us close to our Creator, in order to understand and to know His ways and attributes as the principles that give meaning and purpose to life. In this sense the Levites, as well as the priests, represent the highest awareness of our connection with God.
This connection endows us and enables us to acquire full knowledge of goodness as the cause and purpose of God’s creation. In this awareness we can direct all aspects and dimensions of consciousness, including our creative potentials, talents, skills and abilities, to the purpose of goodness.
We do this by making the moment to moment choices between the egotistic approach of materialistic fantasies and illusions (with their negative traits and trends of addictions, obsessions and attachments), and the constructive, enhancing and elevating ethical qualities of goodness as the true expression of love in human consciousness.
The haftarah for this portion of the Torah reminds us that when we make the choice of goodness, the idols and false gods we make out of ego’s fantasies and illusions are removed by the goodness God wants us to choose in every decision we make.
Once we make goodness with its ethical principles the constant choice, we begin to live in the redemption promised by our Creator through His prophets.
“For I will take away the names of the Baalim [idols, false gods] out of her [Israel, Jerusalem] mouth, and they shall no more be mentioned by their name.” (Hosea 2:19)