The essence of connecting – human beings

In preparation for the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments and the entire Torah, we are always reading from the Torah at this time in our synagogues, the beginning of the Book of Numbers.

At the giving of the Torah 3334 years ago, we entered a covenant and bond with God which is many times likened to a marriage between a man and a woman. So, let us learn a lesson from our special reading always connected with this holiday regarding our entering this union with God.

The fourth book of the Bible begins with the commandment to count the Israelites; hence, the name for the entire book, Numbers.

When people are counted, the attention is distinctly not on what differentiates one person from the other, but on what is the same in all people being counted. Whether it is a person with financial status, great physical appearance, or personal refinement, all these virtues and values are inconsequential. Everyone gets counted the same way: as One.

When counting human beings, our attention and awareness are directed to their essence that defines them as human beings. This is the spark of Godliness in its purity that always remains whole, and complete and which provides each one the identity as a human being. Our intrinsic value endowed upon us by God which unites us and is the same in all people. This very deep fundamental nature, common to all of us, we call to attention when a census of human beings takes place.

The quality of obedience is a commitment to conformity that surpasses the way any one person understands or feels at the moment.

When God promises us the greatest reward, and deepest attachment with Him for observing His commandments, the word in Hebrew for “commandments” (chukim) does not apply to those commandments which make logical sense but rather to those commandments that are necessarily observed out of pure obedience. The quality of reaching in deeper than logic is being underscored. 

There is a verse in the book of Isaiah, Ki mitzion teitzei Torah ud’var Hashem mirushalayim, which means, “For out of Zion shall go Torah and the word of God from Jerusalem.”

What did the prophet intend by saying out of Zion will come the Torah, wisdom, and out of Jerusalem will come the word of God? 

Isaiah is pointing out two aspects. Wisdom is an overlay to the soul’s essence and is not the same in everyone. A person can lack wisdom and still be 100% human and 100% alive.

Mysticism explains the word Zion as a “symbol” of the holiness in Jerusalem, while in Hebrew the word Jerusalem, is the actual description and definition of the great and deep awareness this physical location offers its inhabitants for Godliness and spirituality.

Isaiah is teaching, that a person awaken and connect not just with Godly symbolism (Zion) but with the actual essence (Jerusalem, Godliness itself), the essence through the word of God. 

For a deep relationship to succeed, there must be an essential commitment of obedience to the relationship and to the core of the other one in the relationship beyond what makes sense, to me. As great as personal achievement is, it will always remain superficial, finite, and in flux, and it is what differentiates one person from the other.

There is a much deeper part inside every person where unconditional love and commitment must exist, between parents and children, husbands and wives etc, and unqualified sensitivity between people of different backgrounds must be discovered.

To enter this bond and relationship with God before the holiday of Shavuot, and with each other as one people, we must awaken and reach deeper inside ourselves. We must discover and connect with what unites us all instead of noticing what makes us different from each other. It is then that the relationship becomes eternal. That is why the “counting” needs to occur before the Jewish people enter this eternal and everlasting covenant of the Torah. Our focus on what unites us comes from acknowledging and recognizing the essential spark, the light of God, which is the same in all of us. On that basis, we develop and build our unique contribution toward the greater good. 

Chapter 54

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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