Parshat Behaalotecha: Living humanity as goodness

The Torah’s essential teaching for humankind is that goodness is the cause and the purpose of God’s creation, and such as He commands Israel to make it prevail in all aspects and expressions of consciousness by removing evil from our midst, not only to fully enjoy goodness but to share it with all.

“Then Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’s father-in-law ‘We are traveling to the place about which the Lord said, “I will give it to you”. Come with us and we will be good to you, for the Lord has spoken of goodness for Israel’.” (Numbers 10:29)

In this verse we see that goodness is an inner and outer place that God gives us to live and delight on, and we reach out to it by assimilating the goodness He speaks to us. The Promised Land is the material manifestation of goodness once we anchor it every facet and dimension of life. In this context Moses’ father in law and his descendants are the foreigners (converts) who make the choice to live in the goodness He bestows in the Jewish people and their land. This choice is based on the already existent goodness in the potential convert.

“And he [Moses] said, ‘Leave us not I pray you, for as much as you know how we are to encamp in the wilderness and you shall be to us instead of eyes’.” (10:31)

Moses’s father in law, Reuel [a.k.a. Yitro] contributed greatly to the establishment of the Jewish nation. Moses lived forty years by his side as part of Reuel’s household, and he helped Moses by suggesting him to set a court system to properly and effectively judge the children of Israel. The oral tradition also tells us that Reuel was the only close adviser to Pharaoh who rejected the ruler of Egypt’s plan to destroy the Jewish people. These attributes of goodness made Reuel part of Israel, and Moses remarked this to him by the principle that goodness does not dwell with anything different from it.

“And it shall be if you come with us, it shall be that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, our goodness will be unto you.” (10:32)

In this awareness we realize that the source of goodness is God’s goodness that expresses its ways and attributes by removing what is opposed to it.

“So it was that whenever the ark set out Moses would say, ‘Arise, O Lord, may Your enemies be scattered 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’.” (10:36)

Again we must emphasize that goodness is our natural bond with the Creator as the place He shares with us as spiritual and human beings. As the Torah constantly indicates and the Jewish prophets reiterate, by divine decree goodness is destined to prevail in the material world, for it already reigns in the spiritual worlds. Thus we also assimilate that the land of Israel and Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital represent the goodness God wants for the world. Jerusalem is the daughter of Zion as the permanent awareness of our eternal bond with the Creator, the goodness where He is also destined to dwell in us.

“‘Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion, for behold I will come and dwell in your midst’, says the Lord’. And many nations shall join the Lord on that day, and they shall be My people; and I will dwell in your midst and you shall know that the Lord of Hosts sent me to you.” (Zechariah 2:14-15)

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.
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