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BamidbarRead / Listen to Portion
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Each person is as valuable as Adam, the first man. Though Adam was only a single human being, he held within him the potential of all humanity. So, too, each person shares that same potential. No person should be dismissed as simply a number or a cog in the wheel. Every human being is a whole world.
If that which is below is a reflection of that which is above, then the hosts of Israel on earth must correspond to the hosts in heaven. This Torah portion offers a close look at the hosts of Israel. We see them numbered and counted. We see them divided into tribal identities. We see them encamped around the Tabernacle.
The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land is an apt metaphor for the spiritual journey through life. Between here and there we face tests, trials and all manner of adventures. We may face warfare, temptations, discontentment and agonizing hardships. As with the Israelites in the wilderness, our success or failure is determined by our reactions to these trials.
The common denominator in all these family rankings is the central position of a father. In the biblical world, fatherhood was the essential ingredient for family and identity. Isn't that chauvinistic? Not from the perspective of the biblical woman. She regarded her father and husband as her prestige and her identity. They were the affirmation of her femininity. They provided her protection, sustenance and dignity. It's a different way of thinking from what we have today.