We All Count! By Eve Levy
There are moments in our lives when we feel the hand of G-d. It can come when we least expect it – while parking the car, waiting at the doctor’s office, even in line at the grocery store.
Sometimes, we don’t know what to do with the realization that G-d is so involved in our personal lives that we desperately try to make excuses. Sadly, we may not see ourselves worthy of receiving direct assistance from above. It is common to cover up this awesome feeling by saying things like “Oh, it was only a coincidence,” or “What a small world!”
My teacher, Rebbetzin Neustadt, once told me there are no coincidences. The modern Hebrew word we use for coincidence is a mikreh, which technically means “a happening.” The Hebrew letters for mikreh are mem, kuf, reish and hey. These four Hebrew letters, when scrambled around, form two new words: reish, kuf and mem hey, which spell the words “Rak M’Hashem,” meaning “It is all from G-d.” There are not coincidences. Everything, both small and large, is orchestrated from Above.
If we look for the hand of G-d in our lives, we will find it. In fact, we will be overwhelmed with how often we will find it. Searching for Hashgacha Pratit (Divine intervention) is like exercising a spiritual muscle. In the beginning, it’s difficult and we feel out of shape, but once we get the hang of it, we can see G-d’s hand in every aspect of our lives. This is the greatest gift!
In this week's’ Torah portion, Parshat Bamidbar (Numbers), G-d commands us to take a census of the Jewish people. This seems odd. G-d already counted us in Sh’mot (Exodus). And why does G-d, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, need to count us? Doesn’t He just know how many we are?!
Nothing is superfluous in the Torah. If G-d commanded us to be counted, there must be an important reason.
I remember when I was around 10 years old and very into my collections. Stickers, shiny rocks, rare stamps … you name it! I would take such good care of my collections, taking them out each day, spreading them out in my room to gaze at them lovingly, and then carefully wrapping them back up in black velvet material to store safely in the headrest above my bed.
I knew exactly how many stamps I had. I knew exactly how many fuzzy stickers and how many shiny ones. When we love and care about something, we count it again and again. It never gets old.
By G-d asking for us to be counted again and again, it is showing His love for us. G-d was impressing on us the importance of each and every member of the Jewish nation. Everyone had to be counted because everyone counted. The Jewish nation is incomplete without even one player. We are like an orchestra. Every note adds to the spectacular symphony that makes us the Jewish people. To G-d, each person is precious beyond measure. Our sages say each person is obligated to understand that the entire world was created for his or her unique purpose. To quote my friend Nili Couzens, “If G-d had a refrigerator, your picture would be hanging on it!”
This month, my mom will be retiring after nearly 40 years of incredible devotion and dedication as a public school teacher in Canada. What an accomplishment! I am so proud of her, and I can’t wait to head to Toronto next week to celebrate with her. My dad recently reminded me that when my mother would take attendance in her classes, she would call out each name, and instead of the students answering, “Here,” instead they would say “I love you, Mrs. Fleising.” The love and respect that she and her students shared was beautiful.
The holiday of Shavuot is here! We celebrate the momentous occasion of the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai 3,328 years ago. Every Jewish soul – past, present and future – was there. Every Jewish convert-to-be was present. We were all accounted for. No one was missing.
It says in the Torah (Exodus 19:2), “And Israel encamped before the mountain,” using the singular verb for encamped. Our sages teach that they were K’ish echad b’lev echad (like one person with one heart). United, we accepted the Torah by saying “Na’ase v’nishma” (“We will do and then we will hear”). We were all in! We felt the presence of G-d so clearly in our lives, and felt so privileged to have that relationship. G-d then crowned us with two crowns, one for each of our promises, “Na’ase v’nishma.” They were royalty and glory.
In the heat of the moment, G-d made promises to us and we made promises to Him. Not a day goes by that G-d does not keep His promises to us. He is heavily involved in our day-to-day lives. He sustains us and ensures our survival. And, we can feel His hand in every area of our lives if we just look for it.
This Shavuot, when G-d looks for me, to account for me, I want to not only be able to say, “Here I am,” but also, “I see you, I feel you in my life and I love you.”
Chag Sameyach. Wishing all my friends a happy and holy Shavuot!
Eve Levy is a JWRP City Leader from Portland, Oregon.