Published Date: May 25, 2020
This week’s music: https://youtu.be/r6snFroRCuM
The opening of the book of “Bamidbar,” Numbers, primarily deals with the counting of the numbers of B’nai Yisrael in the desert. Both here and at the initial time of the building of the “mishkan,” the travelling tabernacle, it was of great importance for every member of B’nai Yisrael to be counted in. During the times of The Beit Hamikdash, sacrifices were brought to the Holy Temple to atone for the sins of the Jewish nation. The Torah teaches us that the money for the sacrifices must come from the entire nation, rich and poor, everyone contributing the same exact amount, “machatzit hashekel,” a half shekel. Through this act of giving, we each stated that we needed each other, by the very fact that each of us was only one half, incomplete without the other. As a result of this recognition and the desire to be counted in, we all had equal representation in the atonement before Hashem. It was an exemplary recognition of the fact that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I am a proud member of the nation of Israel.
We are one week away from a new chance to receive The Holy Torah again As Reb Shlomo taught us so often, “not that there is God Forbid anything wrong with the old Torah, but we also need a new Torah, a new Shabbos, to renew us in our relationship with Hashem and each other.” Thus as The Slonimer taught us throughout his teachings on Sefirat Haomer, these seven weeks prior to Shavuot are our time to cleanse, to fix between myself and my friends, and to connect in a more real way to my Creator. When I do that work, I am preparing myself to receive the Torah anew. In this way too I am asking to be counted in once again to the nation of Israel, the chosen people who were blessed to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai over three thousand year ago and preserve it’s holiness and application to our lives on a daily basis.
This is why it is so emotional for us today to be celebrating “Yom Yerushalyim,” Jerusalem Day, each year just one week prior to receiving the Torah on the holiday of Shavout, “z’man matan Toratenu.” “Ki mitzion tetze Torah u’dvar Hashem me’yerushalem,” the Torah heralds out of Zion and the word of God is from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2.3). Jerusaelm, the place that The Ishbitzer Rebee constantly calls, “the center of the world.” Yerushalem – the place from which Peace will emanate. The center of the world, and all eyes of the world are focused on it every day.
This is the day that reminds us why we request of Hashem in our prayers three times a day, “V’liyerushalyim ircha b’rachamim tashuv,” please return us all to your city Jerusalem with mercy. Please let Peace come with love and kindness. Jerusalem is the place about whom at every wedding we sing, “Im eskachech Yerushalyim tishkach yemini, “If I forget thee Jerusalem may may right hand forget it’s purpose (Psalms 137). So strong and powerful. It is a clear testimony to the idea that if I go one day without yearning for the rebuilt Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash, it is as if I do not exist. I am incomplete and I need to remember that truth every day.
We start declaring this thought, the need for completion, at the Pesach Seder. Each year we sing out, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Perhaps that was okay before we returned to Jerusalem in 1967. Now it may be more appropriate to call out with commitment and feeling, “This year in Jerusalem.” How can we forget? So many people have wanted to come to Jerusalem in the past few months and due to the various lockdowns, were not able to be here. Perhaps Hashem is saying to us all, sorry you can’t enter right now. Perhaps we, as a people, including those of us who have the merit to live in The Holy Land, did not miss Jerusalem enough and did not yearn enough to merit being there. Bottom line, we need each other in Jerusalem.
As Rav Kook said over and over again, Jerusalem is the absolute soul of our nation. We must raise the flag of Jerusalem up high. Raise the flag and remember the word of our Hashem that was called out from Jerusalem. “…u’dvar Hashem me’Yerushalem.” There is no separating the two.
We begin this thought on Pesach and we are awakened to desire it as we approach the completion of the exodus from Mitzraim on Shavout. Reb Levi Yitzchak, in relation to the holiday of receiving the Torah, cites the verse from Shir Hashirim, “…im ta’iru v’im te’or’ru et ha’ahavah, ad shetechpatz,” (Shir Hahsirim 2.7). There are many ways to understand this verse. It seems to me that the three words that can stand out most are, “te’or’ru” if you will have an awakening and “ad shetechpatz,” until you desire.
In order to be aware of Hashem’s greatness I need to desire it. I need to create an object, (from the root word “chefetz) “make myself a vessel, a “keli’” that can absorb and hold on to all of the miracles that I am blessed to experience. In this way, I can prepare myself to receive the Torah in a more personal and soulful manner. Thus, for example, when I think of the great miracles of “The 6 Day War,” of the recapturing of The Holy City of Jerusalem in the year 5727 (1967), if I want to take it in and make it a true part of myself, I need to create a proper vessel in which to receive this great gift. The Holy Berditchever recommends that in order to actualize this internal ownership process of the experience I need to immediately make myself a vessel to personally receive. I need to study The Holy Torah, do an act of kindness, acknowledge God’s greatness so that I am able to hold on to that miracle as my own on the inside of the inside. That miracle, says Reb Levi Yitzchak, is akin to a soul and I need to create a vessel, a body for it to live on in.
May we all be blessed to rejoice in our heart and soul on this great day, to show ourselves and our creator our great desire to be counted in, not only alone, but all together as the one family that we are. I will never forget how I received so much strength listening to Reb Shlomo talk about Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. Shlomo often expressed his deep love for the original builders of our “medinah,” “the state of Israel,” as if no one was ever more important to bringing us closer to the “Geulah.” These are our brothers and sisters, Shlomo would say, on whose shoulders and commitment this yearning has once again all begun and become strong in The Holy Land. This process, the building of the state and the return of our family to their home, is the gateway to the final redemption and the return to The Beit Hamikdash in the holy city of Jerusalem. May we never forget our connection to Yerushalayim. May we never forget our connection to each other, may we never forget the unconditional love that Haדhem has for us, and in that way, we shall be blessed to raise up the level of our preparation to once again be blessed to receive the great gift of our Holy Torah.
Shabbat Shalom V’chag Sameach!