Bamidbar — Letters of Courage
We’ve all had the experience of being put down. Of being made to feel as if we don’t matter. But the truth is otherwise. In Parshas Bamidbar every Jew is counted. Every Jew matters. Hashem adores each of us as if we were His only child. For a father, there is no such thing as a child who does not count. For Hashem, there is no such thing as a Jew who does not matter. For Hashem, every Jew is big and beloved. Every Jew is important. Reb Levi Yizchok Horowitz, the Bostoner Rebbe, zt”l, remarked to me, “Every Jew has a story to tell.” And as Rav Michal Twerski, the Hornisteipel-Milwaukee Rebbe, shlita, told me, “There is nothing pashut, simple, about a pashuter, simplistic, Yid.” Every Jew is unique and interesting and should be made to feel important, because he or she is important.
Reb Shlomke of Zvhil was known to create Eis Ratzon, auspicious moments for prayers to be heard and answered, by allowing himself to be ridiculed and mocked and not answering back. Along these lines, the story is told of a woman who was insulted, and before she had the opportunity to answer back, the woman standing next to her, who was childless, said, “Quickly. Daven that I should have a child.” The insulted woman, taken by surprise, did as the childless woman requested. Her prayers were answered and within the year the barren woman gave birth to a healthy child. We too can turn hurt feelings and wounded egos into auspicious times to daven for others and for ourselves.
A patient once called Dr. Avraham Twerksi at two o’clock in the morning. She was besides herself. Her emotionally abusive husband had berated her for being a terrible mother and wife. Dr. Twerski cut her off saying, “Excuse me, but I need you to know that the scar you have running the length of your face is terribly ugly and offensive to me.” There was silence followed by, “Dr. Twerski, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have any scars on my face.” Dr. Twerski asked, “That being the case, did my comment hurt your feelings?” She said, “I didn’t have my feelings hurt because your comment wasn’t true.” “So too,” observed Dr. Twerski, “your husband’s comments are as false as my comment. His words hurt you because you allow yourself to believe them.” When working at a recovery center for alcoholics I told my clients, “At first you were beat up by others, from them you learned to beat up yourself. Now stop beating yourself up, you don’t deserve it. You’re a good person and God loves you.”
We are valued by the tzaddikim, and, more so, by Hashem. When circumstances and words have us feeling pitiful, small, and unfortunate, whether because of an employer’s rebuke, a failed business, an unsuccessful shidduch, or the hurtful words of a child or spouse, we must know that we matter to Hashem. He counts every one of us. He thinks highly of us, and He wants us to think highly of ourselves. He wants us to recognize ourselves as bodies containing a spark of Elokus, a spark of Godliness. It is a privilege to be a Jew and it is a privilege Hashem found us worthy of. Rather than telling Hashem how big our problems are; we should tell our problems, and our pains, how big Hashem is, and, as Jews, how big we are. He counts each of us because we’re worth it! Hashem is proud of us; we should be proud of ourselves!!