Parshat Behaalotecha: Transitioning to goodness

“And I have given the Levites, –they are given to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel –, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tent of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel, through the children of Israel coming to the sanctuary.” (Numbers 8:19)

We have mentioned that the priests and Levites represent the highest level of consciousness through which we connect and bond with our Creator. The latter serve as the inducers and enablers to initiate the process by correcting and transforming negative traits and trends into positive means and qualities that empower us to be, to have and do goodness as our divine essence and true identity.

The “tent of meeting” is indeed the time and place in consciousness where we become fully aware of (“meet”) goodness as our common bond with God, and in this awareness we “see” Him. Let’s understand “seeing” as knowing, and “hearing” as understanding. In order to achieve this, we first have to do a thorough cleaning process usually called the “atonement” mentioned in the verse.

For this the Levite’ quality in our consciousness initiates the transition from the imprisonment of a self-centered mentality to the total freedom of living in goodness for the sake of it. Thus we realize that when we live in goodness there is no lack that limits our freedom or makes us feel deficiency, dissatisfaction, discontent, inadequacy, anxiety and distress, which are the effects of negative traits and trends as the “plagues” that undermine goodness in our consciousness.

Once we remove what threatens goodness in ourselves, through the awareness of goodness induced by our yearning of it, we will be “the children of Israel coming to the sanctuary”.

“And it came to pass, when the ark set forward that Moses said, ‘Rise up, O Lord, and let Your enemies be scattered; and those that hate You flee before You’. And when it rested, he said, ‘Return, O Lord, to the myriads of the families of Israel’.” (10:35-36)

The Ark of the Covenant encompasses the full awareness of God’s presence in our consciousness, and the permanent bonding with Him. We have said often that Moses represents our highest knowledge of God that leads us to the realization that when we are determined to live in goodness there is nothing different or opposite to it. We experience this when the joy and contentment of goodness fill our thoughts, emotions, feelings and actions, where there are place for negative traits or trends.

“Rising up” and “returning” are complementary terms related to actions that define purpose and determination to manifest who we are, and what are we about in this world. We rise up to goodness as the ruling principle in God’s creation in order to make it prevail in all aspects and expressions of life; and we return to it in restfulness as the peaceful place where we are destined to dwell, for in it also dwells God’s presence.

The Levite’ in our consciousness sings and praises God’s goodness constantly around the “tent of meeting” to arouse the positive traits and qualities that celebrate our essence and true identity. In this invitation to the fulfillment of happiness and peacefulness as the purposes of goodness, the priest as the permanent awareness of our connection with God enables us to bond with Him, as we meet our Creator through the goodness that emanates from Him.

The Prophet reminds us this in the haftarah for this Torah portion. Jerusalem as “the daughter of Zion” is certainly the culmination of the process we have referred to.

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of you, has said the Lord.” (Zechariah 2:14)

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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