Bamidbar: Before the Divine Presence

The Torah makes evident that the Creator guides and directs our steps when we choose to embrace His ways and attributes. It is also evident that He also directs all His Creation, and we realize this when we look at this world and the Universe. As we have said before, this is indeed what agnostics call “intelligent design” though with God’s Love as its cause, because all that exists is sustained by Him. This realization becomes even more evident for Israel in our relationship with God. He has been with us ever since He took our forefathers out of the house of slavery in Egypt, and dwelt with them in the desert (Bemidbar). 


Another census of the children of Israel takes place in this portion and let’s recall that the counting (lit. rising of the heads) is fundamental to understand the primordial way in which the Creator relates to us: He counts us because we count for Him, because He loves us. He knows our names as He also knows each part of His Creation. God loves His Creation and chose the children of Israel to proclaim and establish this transcendental Truth in the material world. What is the Love of God? We can’t conceive Him, neither His Essence, His Love or anything that is from Him and emanates from Him, but we can see His Creation (what is visible and tangible to us) and learn through His Torah how He relates to it. We know that He loves it because He sustains it, and this means that He counts it as He counts the children of Israel.

This is how we deduce and conclude that His ways are His Love’s ways, and Love is also the way we relate to Him because it is our common bond with Him. In this new census we learn that each individual member of the Jewish people is unique and special, and there are no preferences or privileges, simply because God’s Love is not conditioned by the way we are individually. He wants us to be different and diverse, with traits and qualities that make us the way we are as individuals.

We have said countless times that Judaism does not create discriminating differences, levels, casts, categories or ranks among human beings, though this approach is typical of the other nations. However, we must admit that most of us Jews don’t live according to the ways the Torah tells us. As human beings we have the most enviable identity of all in the world, but most of us do not embrace such identity as the Torah defines it. It is ironic that the Creator counts each and all of us as His people, and we don’t reciprocate His Love by counting Him in what we are, have and do.

We learn in this particular census that God wants each one of us counted to live in His Torah and His Commandments. As He knows us individually with our particular qualities and  potential, He wants to give us our portion of His Torah, our portion of His Love for us to transform the darkness in the world into the radiant place in which He may dwell among us. He makes us aware of His Love when He gave us the Torah, the means to know His ways and attributes which are manifest in our consciousness as Love’s way and attributes. 

We enthrone Love as the ways, means, traits and qualities that must guide and conduct all levels and dimensions of consciousness, thus we reveal and proclaim God’s Presence and Kingdom on Earth. He counts us to tell us that He loves us, and by knowing His Love we know that it is our Essence and true identity. We are able to love each other because God loves us. We have said in previous commentaries in this blog that the Tribes of Israel represent particular traits and qualities destined to be united in their mission to create a place in this world for the Creator to dwell among (in) us.

The Tribes encompass all the potential goodness that we can become and manifest in all aspects of life, and by being and doing this we fulfill the identity and destiny that the Creator wants for us, as He tells us in the Torah. We all count before God, from the most talented, powerful and capable to the lowliest, weakest and limited among us, because regardless of our human condition each one of us has a part in God’s plan.

We may find this approach hard to understand when we follow the non Jewish mentality that human beings are divided by levels, classes, categories, etc. in which slavery, exploitation, oppression, subjugation, despotism and discrimination are plainly justified. This approach is not shared in Judaism because the Torah commands us and destines us to love each other, and cooperate with each other for the common goal of fulfilling God’s will for us, which is to make His ways and attributes prevail in human consciousness. This is the legacy of the Torah for the world, and the main contribution of the Jewish people to humankind. This is what the Redemption and the Messianic era in Judaism are all about.

We will fulfill this mission as our destiny, and we begin transforming the negative aspects of consciousness by directing them into God’s ways and attributes. We begin by eradicating ego’s fantasies and illusions as the idols that separate us from Love as our Essence and true identity. Once we are aware of God’s Love as the source that creates and sustain our lives as well as all His Creation, we must choose to embrace His ways.

In this realization we become aware that He has been and always will be our sole Redeemer: “And I will remove the names of the baalim [idols] from her [Jerusalem, as our consciousness of Love through our highest awareness of God’s Love] mouth, and they shall no longer be mentioned by their name [the idols shall no longer be followed]. And I will make on that day a Covenant with the beasts of the field, and with the fowl of the sky, and with the creeping things of the earth; and the bow, the sword, and war I will break off the earth; and I will let them lie down safely. And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you with righteousness and with justice, and with loving kindness, and with compassion. And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19-22).

We know Him through His ways and attributes, and we come to realize this as long as we follow them also as our ways. The Psalmist reminds us about this: “Know Him in all your ways, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.