Behaalotecha: Living in God’s ways and means

“So it was, whenever the ark [of the Covenant between God and Israel] set out, Moses would say, ‘Arise, O Lord, may Your enemies be dispersed and may those who hate You flee from You.’ And when it came to rest he would say, ‘Repose O Lord, among the myriads of thousands of Israel’.” (Numbers 10:35-36). The ark is where the Torah is stored, and we can say that both share the same place in Jerusalem and its Temple, which also represent the highest level of consciousness. It is where we keep God’s Torah and His Commandments, and from there we guide all dimensions of life. Hence the Prophet says, “For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3). In this sense when we get up in the morning our awareness must be in convergence with God’s will.

We are entitled to express our gratitude to God since the moment we open the eyes, acknowledging Him as the Owner of His Creation, including us. We get up by setting out the ark of the Covenant to face the new day that God creates for us, another journey full of challenges in which we have to make choices every moment. We are thankful to be God’s chosen to make the right choices, through and for Love’s ways and means, instead of through and for ego’s fantasies and illusions.

We have said that Moses represents our individual highest knowledge of God’s ways and attributes. In this foremost awareness we manifest them in what we discern, think, feel, speak and do. King David reminds us this when he says, “All the paths of the Lord are loving kindness and truth for those who keep His Covenant and His testimonies.” (Psalms 25:10), because “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; loving kindness and truth go before Your face.” (89:14) and these qualities belong to Love’s ways and attributes for us to permeate what we are, have and do at all times.

These qualities derive from God’s Love for us to emulate in the material world. We just need to bring our permanent awareness that God’s Love, His Glory, is present in all His Creation: “He loves righteousness and justice, the Earth is full of the loving kindness of the Lord.” (33:5). We must be mindful of this when we meet the mirages of ego’s illusions within ourselves and in others. We get up every day in the battlefield of the negative tendencies of consciousness and the positive qualities of Love’s ways and attributes.

In this scenario Love is our strength and armor as the material manifestation of God’s loving kindness. In this strength we overcome our most difficult problems and negative situations, the enemies of easiness, goodness, simplicity, humility and the positive traits we want to make prevail in ourselves and our individual circumstances: “God, whose loving kindness shall come to meet me, God shall let me see my desire upon my enemies.” (59:11).

We have said in many of our study gatherings in Israel that king David is the Biblical character who best understood the Torah and God’s ways, and the proof of this are his book of Psalms and his sayings recorded in the books of Chronicles in the Hebrew Bible. His reflections encompass the primordial messages of the Torah to bring us a practical and easier comprehension of God’s Love, and our Prophets reiterate the wisdom of our beloved king of Israel: “And you, return to your God: keep loving kindness and justice, and wait on your God continually.” (Hosea 12:6), “Thus spoke the Lord of hosts saying, ‘Execute true justice, and show loving kindness and compassion to one to another’.” (Zechariah 7:9).

Thus we reflect on Moses’ words above. In full awareness of Love’s ways and attributes, as the material manifestation of God’s Love, we face our enemies not only those who want our death and the destruction of Israel but also defamers and detractors who hate us because they don’t find anything else to pour down their frustration and hatred. Tough times we and our ancestors have faced, and still face every day, to defend our right to exist and to proclaim the true Essence and identity that God gave us in His Torah.

Let’s also be mindful that similar enemies threaten to take over our consciousness to undermine our loving kindness, justice and compassion when we allow ego’s negative fantasies and illusions to control our thoughts, feelings, passions and instincts. Our Sages point out that when one lets himself be submitted to negative traits, he submits himself to people with similar traits. In other words, when one become slave of destructive addictions, bad habits and negative attitudes, he enslaves himself to the rules of those who share the same traits.

Some people call this predicament “living in hell”, and portray “hell” and “purgatory” as places or situations in which everything is negative to the point of saturation, in order to learn completely what “negative” means. We have mentioned in other commentaries that some people say that the evil in the world is enough, but in some places it seems to get worse every day. They wonder if there is such a thing as the Final Redemption as promised by God and the Prophets in Judaism. We tell them that indeed there is a Final Redemption, and it begins when we choose Love’s ways and attributes instead of the negative and destructive ways ego wants to rule in our consciousness.

Now we say, “Let Redemption be, and let it start with me!”. We do it by letting Love direct and guide all aspects and dimensions of consciousness, one individual at a time. Let’s be mindful that Redemption starts first within us as individuals. We can’t demand change for good in others if we don’t change first for good in ourselves. First we have to raise all levels of consciousness up to the guidance of Love’s ways and means. Thus we dispel and eliminate our enemies. Thus we understand “Arise, O Lord, may Your enemies be dispersed and may those who hate You flee from You.” because in the awareness of Love we are united with our Creator; hence our enemies are also His.

After we finish the day, our journey of challenges and choices in which we choose Love instead of its opposites, we may say happily, “Repose O Lord, among the myriads of thousands of Israel”. And remain with us, Father, with those who know You through Your loving kindness, justice, truth and compassion, which are Your endless Love.

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 Zefat.
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