Parshas Beha'aloscha
Numbers 8:1 -12:16

Realizing We Are B'nei Yisroel ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

"On the order of Hashem they camped and on the order of Hashem they traveled..."
Numbers 9:23

Amongst these eight Hebrew words we have Hashem's orders, "Camp" or "Travel." We {Kal Yisroel} have the choice to observe or to ignore. Each Jew has the choice to observe or to ignore. This is the strange part. When we Jews do not agree we may choose to ignore. We may ignore because we do not understand. We may ignore because we do not want to take the time nor exert the effort to understand. We may not understand simply because we cannot understand. Hashem has not allowed us to understand.

Recently I received several e-mails from an individual professing to be Jewish. In his letter he stated, "I am not a Christian... I am a modern Jew."

One must ask the question, "What is a modern Jew?" Is this a term for a Jew who is trying to be fashionable? Is a modern Jew an individual who discards certain Torah Halacha that they don't agree with? Is a modern Jew one who has chosen to redefine the Torah to a more comfortable temperature? Does the term modern Jew allow one to identify with living less like a Torah observant Jew and more like a non Jew? What does modern Jew actually mean? I DON'T KNOW! The point is the Torah does not draw this type of distinction. The Torah addresses Jews as B'nei Yisroel, meaning the children of Israel or Kal Yisroel, meaning all Israel. Honestly the Torah does NOT recognize our identities of modern, Orthodox, Conservative, etc...

So, dear reader, how do I respond to an individual who professes to be a modern Jew? The Torah does not recognize our many classifications. Holy reader, we are B'nei Yisroel to Hashem! PERIOD! It is we who distinguish between ourselves.

Does this reader who claims to be a modern Jew have less of a right to express his opinion? Should the opinion of this reader who may or may not read Hebrew and who may or may not understand Hebrew be given the same weight as an individual who does read and understand Hebrew? Should we assume that this modern Jew studies Torah 8 - 10 -12 - 14 - 16 - 18 - 20 hours a day, EVERYDAY? Should we honor this Jew's opinions like those of the great Talmud chachim like the men of the Great Assembly? Should this individual's opinion carry the same weight as that of a recognized scholar?

Now, holy reader, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is entitled to express their feelings regardless of their position and education in Yiddishkeit! Sometimes we are presented with the most interesting perspectives. Our readers often present varying arguments, questions and challenges. You, holy readers, also present your feelings. We receive discussion from just about every angle. Sometimes, as in this letter, the discussion lacks a Torah foundation. In most instances the letters lacking a Torah foundation have little effect.

Was this reader saying, I find your Orthodox position to be offensive or I find your Torah position to be offensive? Was he saying, "I find you offensive?" Was he preparing me with his words, "I am not a Christian... I am a Jew"?

The point is, we each are Jews. Let's argue Torah from a responsible Torah base and NOT FROM POSITIONS THAT WE IDENTIFY / stigmatize EACH OTHER WITH! Base your argument on what the Torah says, not your place of identity!!

Dear reader, when Hashem gave the Torah it was for ALL B'NEI YISROEL. When Hashem gave the order to camp or to travel it was for ALL B'NEI YISROEL!

When Hashem gives the order to camp, will we listen? Will we camp or will we go wandering off into the desert heat into an area not protected by Hashem's Cloud Covering? Will we walk away from the warmth of Hashem's Fire at night? Will we choose to wander in the dark and in the cold of night? Will we forsake the manna that falls each day? Hashem has one Torah and one people!

Holy reader, the Torah has not changed in thousands of years, yet the Torah is not old! The Torah is not outdated! Hashem, who gave us the Torah, gave us an eternal Torah. It renews everyday! It does not age! The Torah is modern! The Torah was modern! The Torah will always be modern!

Now, we may choose to travel when Hashem says camp and we may choose to camp when Hashem says travel. We may choose to disagree with what the Torah says. We may choose to attempt to redefine what the Torah actually says. We may argue with the positions of the sages from years ago. G-d has blessed us with the freedom of objection. G-d has blessed us with the freedom of choice! ALL THAT BEING THE SITUATION...still, the safest place to reside is in the camp under the protection of the Cloud by day and in the warmth of the light of the Fire by night.

In other words, spending time close to Hashem is well worth it. Exerting the effort to learn hours each day or each week is very satisfying and well worth it! This is the place of Hashem's blessing. Hashem is here in our camp! Hashem is in the camp of B'nei Yisroel!! Hashem is our Cloud by day! Hashem is our Fire by night! Hashem lives in every word of our Torah! Discounting the Torah's rich instruction is like discounting our own life. On the other hand, observing the Torah is like drinking from the sweet waters of the river, like drinking from the waters springing up from the rock and like receiving our daily manna.

Dear reader, we have the choice to dwell among the place of blessing or to wander off somewhere else. "Ahl Pee Hashem Yah Chah Noo Vi Ahl Pee Hashem Yee Saw Oo" is the Gematria 658. This means "On the order of Hashem they camped And on the order of Hashem they traveled..."

{From Right to left}

Ahl Pee
190 =
Yud = 10 + Pey = 80 + Lamid = 30 + Ayin = 70

Hashem Yah Chah Noo
100 =
Vav = 6 +Nun = 50 +Ches = 8 +Yud =10 +Hey = 5 +Vav = 6 +Hey =5 +Yud =10

Vi Ahl Pee
196 =
Yud = 10 + Pey = 80 + Lamid = 30 + Ayin = 70 + Vav = 6

Hashem Yee Saw Oo
172 =
Vav = 6 +Ayin =70 Samech =60+Yud =10 +Hey =5 +Vav = 6 +Hey =5 +Yud =10

658 = 190 + 100 + 196 + 172

Voo Vay Rahch Tee caw - is also the Gematria 658 This means "And I {Hashem} will bless you."

Voo Vay Rahch Tee Caw
658 =
Cuf = 20 + Yud = 10 + Sav =400 + Cuf = 20 + Reish = 200 + Bais = 2 + Vav = 6

The blessing is in the careful observance of Hashem's orders. Every employer appreciates the employee who carefully follows their directives. Every landlord deeply appreciates the tenant that meticulously pays their rent on time. In the same fashion, Hashem blesses every Jew that carefully observes His Torah. Hashem blesses every Jew that explicitly places trust in His order to camp and His order to travel. Camping and traveling are exercises in patience and devotion to Hashem's orders.

It is so easy to criticize orders that we do not receive, orders that were handed down. It is easy to criticize orders that we receive directly. In the same way it is easy to question the commands to camp, to unpack, then to pack and to move. Attempting to explain why Hashem required B'nei Yisroel to camp and travel several times in one week and then to camp and remain for a year or years in one place is a mystery. The Torah is full of such mysteries. Torah mysteries are not grounds for disputing what Hashem has ordered! Torah mysteries are not grounds for revision! Torah mysteries are not grounds for rejecting what Hashem has commanded! Instead Torah mysteries are the boot camp for our blessings. Torah mysteries challenge us, B'nei Yisroel, to trust Hashem! Torah mysteries were not intended to be used as arguments / positions for objections or as platforms of disagreement between these positions {Orthodox, Conservative, Modern, etc.}.

Each of us would desire the best doctor / specialist if we had a life threatening illness. If possible we would seek the advice and direction of one who has carefully studied our problem, who understands our problem and who has the necessary skills to lead us to a full and safe return to good health! Anything short of that would be foolish!!

We would spend the necessary time and expend the necessary effort to insure that we or that our loved one was receiving the best possible attention. In the same way, we need to give our soul, our spirituality the same kind of dedicated attention!!

We need to dedicate ourselves to Torah study rather than to comfortable or fashionable positions. G-d forbid that we argue positions rather than Torah and that we attempt to support our arguments from our positions because our Torah skills are dull and unchallenged. Remember, the blessings are in the struggle to obey the orders. These orders are found in the Torah!!

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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