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Masei: Every Jew Is Important

Miriam Aflalo

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“These are the journeys …” (Bamidbar 33:1)

Rashi: “Why are these journeys written?

 

To make known His kindnesses. Even though He decreed upon them to wander and roam in the desert, they did not wander continuously all forty years, for there are no more than forty-two journeys listed here. We see from this Hashem’s love and affection for the Jewish People. (Rav Yaakov Neiman, Darchei Mussar)

 

They were jostling and shoving in line. I moved over to try to get away from their rambunctious behavior. I always disliked the Central Bus Station. Whenever possible I tried to take buses that I could catch in my neighborhood. But traveling out of the city was different, and this time I found myself in the middle of summer vacation waiting to board a bus along with a bevy of teenagers.

These teenagers looked like the “real thing” — backpacks, cigarettes, a multitude of decorative earrings … they were shrieking and carrying on. All I wanted was some quiet. I wanted to get to where I was going without a migraine. As I handed the driver my ticket, I doubted I would achieve my goal.

I found an empty seat and settled down with a sigh. Suddenly, to my horror, a girl slung her backpack onto the rack above me and settled down in the seat beside me. She immediately picked up her conversation with her friend a few seats back. The noise level was deafening.

Why couldn’t she sit somewhere else? Why couldn’t all of them take a different bus entirely? Didn’t their parents teach them how to behave in public?

I shrank into my seat and tried to pretend that none of them existed.

Rav Yochanan ben Masia understood the soul of a Jew. Every ordinary Jew is a child of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov; each has a connection with the holy Avos. There is no ordinary Jew. Every Jew is more important and more elevated than the greatest princes of the nations of the world, because he’s a child of the holy Avos. (ibid.)

Hashem loves each one of us. He led us through the midbar. He made sure we had breaks and that the traveling was not too hard on us. Nothing and no one was too small to be taken into account. Hashem loves each and every Jew who makes up Klal Yisrael.

I’ve been mistaken. Terribly remiss. True, they aren’t behaving well in public. But they are Yidden. Jewish children the same as mine. It’s sad that they’ve never been shown the beauty of a Torah lifestyle. But that doesn’t make them any less Jewish. My heart should be yearning for them, praying for them, hoping they will return. And loving them despite their behavior.

“For all the nations are as nothing before Him.” They are all empty of value before Hashem. Yet every ordinary Jew is connected to the holy Torah, and the Torah connects him to Hashem. And therefore, every Jew is lofty and elevated beyond measure. (ibid.)

Separation has always been the secret of our spiritual survival. Precisely delineated ideologies are our life breath and clear boundaries are a necessity. Our neighborhoods, our schools are protected. We zealously guard those who come in and out. “This is the Gate of Hashem; tzaddikim shall enter it.”

But still.

The Three Weeks are knocking at the door of our hearts; baseless love is searching to enter our lives. Have we lost the keys to the gate?

The passengers on the bus, the Jews we meet everywhere in our daily lives — do we appreciate them? Value them? Love them?

They are Jews. Who can evaluate them and who can compare to their exalted heights? Is it for us to judge, to repel, or to scorn? They may seem foreign to us, but their heads are in the stars. They are dear to Hashem. They are His children forever.

Let’s remember that there is no such thing as “an ordinary Jew.” There is only a prince who has lost his way …

We arrived at my bus stop. I got up out of my seat then turned to give my seatmate a huge smile. After all, she’s my long lost daughter.

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