Parshat BaMidbar – 2010
The essence of Am Yisrael is one.
The individual soul of each person is combined with all the souls into one soul bound under the heavenly Shechina.
Is there a place this can be done?
Am Yisrael emerged as a single nation from Egypt into the Sea of Suf under miraculous circumstances. For fifty days they prepared themselves for the greatest revelation -“keish echad belev echad”- like one man with one heart, while standing under the mountain of Sinai. This is where they came to know and understand G-d. Bound by torah and mitzvoth, they were turned into a covenantal community. The journey from sea to mountain did not end there. It continued all through the forty two stops in the Midbar (desert) which took over forty years of understanding of what G-d really wanted from them. The manifestation of their true identity came into practical consequence when the rich soil of the Promised Land was finally taken, like a groom takes a bride. This was the consummation of the marriage on Sinai.
People do mitzvoth out of an individual yearning to connect to the Ein Sof. They seek spirituality. They buy de lux tefillin, the best of etrogim for sukkot, are careful about kosher and some even sleep in their tzitzit. This is all well and good. Seemingly, these actions have no connection to what the next person’s mitzvah status is. In reality though, what I do directly affects what happens to all of Am Yisrael. There is a vital force that binds us all. G-d created Israel like a menorah- into one mold. Like our Rabbis say, “If you hurt your right arm, your left arm can’t say it doesn’t hurt. The whole body feels it”. Every person’s soul incorporated into the main unit, the main artery determines how the “one man with one heart” feels. This unique hand in hand feeling of unity is most felt in times of war.
There is only one domain that Am Yisrael can “do right” in its mitzvoth. This was the place Hashem told Abraham, way before Am Yisrael were in Egypt, “To REALLY know Me, get thee to the Land that I will show you”. “I will give it to you” (but you have to work for it. You have to buy it. You have to win it in war. You have to be tested time and time again. Lo Bashamayim hee!)
The eagerness a person feels about doing mitzvoth on a structural level in exile, out and away from his Land should always be accompanied with the knowledge that he is not complete because he is not enabling Am Yisrael to be complete. No “New Jerusalem” is going to fall down from the sky. He should be seeing an exit sign blinking neon because the illusion that he is “making good” and doing what G-d wants from him DOESN’T EXIST in the real intention of the torah. Israel is G-d’s home on earth. It is heaven on earth. It is the collective Jewish consciousness. Wake upmitzvah Jews! The dog days are over. You’re holding up the works. Get out of the Midbar.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith