With our Complete Hearts, Souls and Might

Writing about Parshat Naso, the Ishbitzer, in Mei HaShiloach explains that merely escaping from slavery, leaving the territory of Egypt, even receiving the Torah at Sinai, was not enough (contradicting the Seder Pesach song, Dayenu). In fact, it wasn’t until the Mishkan was erected and the various tribes and families assiged their tasks both in operating the Mishkan and performing the Karbanot, approaching (the Creator) rituals, as well as taking it down for travel, packing it and all the sacred objects it contained and was constructed of, transported and then re-erected in its next chosen location, did The Shechina, God’s Divine (feminine) presence fill both the Mishkan itself, but also the entire camp of Israel (and eventually all of physical reality).

The tasks are greater and more numerous than any one person or even one group, no matter how skilled, inspired and specially trained, could achieve and fulfill. And no task, no matter how holy and elevated it is, can be accomplished without all the other tasks, even those which might appear less important, somehow lower in holiness, also achieved. Moses and Aaron, regardless of their importance and the special natures of the neshamot could not single-handedly lead the Jewish People from Slavery to Freedom, through the Desert, into the Holy Land, Build the Holy Temple and utilize it to bring all humanity to perfection, without the necessary, and, therefore, just as holy, contributions of every individual. The Prophet, the Leader, the Mashiach are all vital to the project, but, ultimately, everyone of us is responsible to refine and purify our own neshamot, souls, to achieve all that we can also in the material sense, to become people who strengthen and reinforce our fellows. None of us are free, none of us are “redeemed”, until all of us, together are.

So we are given a toolkit and a set of detailed instructions. We, Am Yisrael, have ours embedded in the Holy Torah, which, yes, contains 613 arterial mitzvot, commandments, but also individual guides, calibated for each of us in terms of abilities, achievements, hopes and desires, of how each of us need, specifically and individually, to fulfill those mitzvot which are relevant to us (the system is designed that it cannot be completed by a single person, or even a small group of people no matter how special, but requires whatever actual number of us is represented by and hinted at the number 600,000, the root (what I also call “arterial”) souls of Am Yisrael, which are subdivided down the generations to who knows how many millions of individual Jews, each having to discover exactly how he or she can fulfill those mitzvot relevant to it.

Like the Menorah the golden light source within the Holiest Place of the Temple, made up of six separate “candles” each aimed at the central (and, thus seventh, representing perfection, completion, the full spectrum of light)

arm, every one of us needs to “aim” our mitzvot, our holy service (and holiness should, with practice and intention, direct everything each of us does in life) where our specific “light” is needed. No one else’s mitzvot can achieve what our’s can, and we only achieve the complete goal when every facet is illuminated, when each of us is functioning in our completely unique way.

When we say Am Yisrael Chai, we remind ourselves that we each need each other, not only in our own generation, but across generations, to contribute what we’re here to add. Whether the ultimate payoff is during our lifetimes or, like it is for the generations that came before us, some time yet ahead, we, as the totality of Am Yisrael ultimately equal Chai, the Life Energy that animates all of existence.

Shabbat Shalom

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