“When a man vows a vow to the Lord, or has sworn an oath to bind a bond on his soul, he does not pollute his word. According to all that is going out from his mouth he does.” (Numbers 30:2)
God commands us to unify all aspects, dimensions and expressions of consciousness according to the lifestyle He delineates for us in the Torah. In practical terms this means that we have to act according to what we believe, and be consistent with the principles for which we live. These are indeed vows of faithfulness to the One who gave them to us as the bond of our soul to His ways and attributes, which we pollute if we don’t act according to them.
Therefore our discernment, thoughts, ideas, emotions, feelings, passion, instinct, speech and actions must be aligned and harmonized bonding with the goodness God wants us to be, to have and manifest in the material world. We are easily seduced by ego’s fantasies and illusions, called by our sages “the evil inclination” that divert us from love’s ways and attributes as the source of the goodness we are commanded to direct in all expressions of life.
Thus we can understand our war against Midian that represents the conflict we experience when we allow the negative traits and trends that pollute and corrupt the goodness for which we live.
“And Moses spoke unto the people, saying, ‘Arm yourselves men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian’.” (31:3)
This verse teaches us that the goodness God bestows on us fights our battles to eliminate uninvited seductions that make us fall in an unnecessary materialistic and sensually oriented approach to life. In this context we understand goodness as God’s vengeance against what generates conflict and makes us go against the essence and identity the Torah defines for the Jewish people.
Our Chassidic tradition reminds us that every negative trait or experience conceals a positive outcome, and we can understand this in many ways. One is learning from every evil as a reference to always choose goodness. Another is to correct through positive actions the damage caused by negative choices, and also to approach life as a learning process to make goodness prevail in every situation and circumstance no matter how negative these may be.
Thus we understand the enormous wealth the children of Israel acquired after eliminating the evil that the men of Midian and their leaders inflicted on the primordial goodness destined to conduct human consciousness.
“And the children of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones; and all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods they have plundered.” (31:9)
God also commands us to purify all the potential goodness we may find as the final outcome of something negative. Thus we understand that we can’t take any eventual goodness for granted, particularly coming from a negative source. This also reminds us that goodness does not blend, mix or cohabit with anything different from its ways and attributes. In this context we realize the transmuting power of fire, and the cleaning quality of water.
“Howbeit the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead, everything that may withstand the fire you shall make to go through the fire and it shall be clean nevertheless it shall be purified with the water for impurity, and all that doesn’t withstand the fire you shall make to go through the water.” (31:23)
God gave us evil not only as a reference for us to choose goodness, but also as something that He commands us to transmute into goodness as the war on Midian teaches us. As we fulfill His will on this matter we become aware that all which comes from God we have to elevate it back to Him. In this action we perpetuate the bond that keeps us close to Him.
“And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tent of meeting for a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord.” (31:54)