Leah’s Blog – Bamidbar 2023 – Jerusalem Day and Counting
Leah’s Blog – Bamidbar 2023 – Jerusalem Day and counting
I was just four years old when our nation held their breaths and counted to six. Six days it took, in heavy fighting with the Arab armies that came upon little Israel. Our enemies stood from all borders, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan armed with a mighty arsenal of weapons of destruction proclaiming- “We will attack from the north, the south, and the east and drive the Jews into the sea!” What succeeded was a miracle. I grew up to Jerusalem of Gold- an album of songs by Naomi Shemer that my parents bought and played, reviewing the miracle of Divine Providence declaring victory over the besieging enemy armies, and too- the capturing of vast territories of our heartland. In self- defense, the twenty eighth of Iyar is marked as the day the eternal City of Jerusalem was reunited as well as the most precious heritage sites of our people, Shechem, Chevron, Shilo –all coming under our wing; the natural inheritors returning to the core places of our identities. Listening to the songs in that album as a child had me longing to be there, counting just some more years until I made it to Israel’s heartland. It stood vast and empty. I contemplated how almost two decades had passed yet Israel did little to settle it. Why? Even now Israel’s heartland still has layers of spiritual cobwebs entangled by the same enemy force that desires to pull us from it. That late May of 1967 had the world seeing miracles. Did we pick up from there and bring restoration? It was and is a battle on all realms, still. Now, far from empty as it was when I arrived- the very land under our feet is being encroached upon with little governance. It is dire as the policy of even friendly countries toward us negate the union of the Jewish people to their ancestral lands. All the more so, as I’ve testified- I bear witness to it being completely barren in 1985. The miracle of the six day war was followed by a marginal group of die- hard people that brought this land back to life after no nation and no people did, EVER. It blooms now, rapidly responding to our touch, yet the enemy persists in increasing its intensity to rev up defiance. The sands in the hour glass are almost on empty. This is the order of the hour.
Israel now has nine million people living in it. It is filling up quickly. How many skyscrapers can it build? Soon many more of our people will join us here. I’m counting on them to come.
Counting has always had an element of dichotomy in Judaism. We’ve been counting days now leading up to Shavuot. We count our blessings. We have a half shekel count as we read in earlier Torah portions. But there is a biblical prohibition in counting people. King Saul counted a census in sheep, instructing each person to take one sheep from the royal herd- they were enumerated that way, a later time people were counted by stones which they held. Moshe Rabbeinu had us counted in coins. Largely we don’t want an “evil eye” on our numbers, so we count objects. The duality of counting is like anything else in the Torah- bless and be bless, curse and be cursed. Good and evil. Use anything you do for the good but it can go either way- it’s up to you. Counting can be dehumanizing like the numbers tattooed unto the arms of our people in the holocaust. We are not cattle! We are not objects. Interestingly we read about the census at this time coinciding with Jerusalem Day, before Shavuot. The notion that we are over half a million people living in Israel’s heartland today has raised judgement. Hashem counts each one of us as a King counts his money, as a grandparent counts grandchildren, as something you have affection for. Counting can be good or bad depending on if the focus is on each and every one of us being part of the bigger picture, like stars shining in a constellation as promised to Abraham on this very land.
You count. Make yourself count. Instead of watching this story unfold participate in the body of this. We can take responsibility because we matter. Each one of us shine. Happy Jerusalem Day to our dear friends! Thank you AFSI for coming to visit!
Shabbat shalom, leah