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Our Individual Mission

By Rabbi Yehonatan Salem

This week, as we start the book of Bamidbar, the Torah begins by enumerating the Jewish People who were in the Sinai desert. This is to symbolize that every Jew, without exception, has a unique and intrinsic value, and is not just a number or a stereotype. His importance is such that for him alone the entire Creation is justified. At the time of Creation, G-d made many of each species, but of   man He only created one, from whom the whole world was to be populated. This demonstrated the uniqueness of each person, and for this reason our Sages taught us the importance of sustaining and saving any individual person.

What is it that makes each and every one of us is so important that our individual existence justifies the Creation?

Before the world was created, G-d had created myriads of souls in His “store house”, which were basking in His divine presence. Yet, for these souls to derive such enjoyment without having first earned it, causes them much embarrassment. Hence, G-d created this physical world and enabled souls to descend into it, encased   in a body of flesh, to be given the chance to earn their reward by choosing to do His will, i.e. the mitzvot of the Torah. By exerting effort in their adherence to the mitzvot, they earn eternal reward which they will receive when their souls become detached from their earthly bodies and return to their maker.

However, since each soul is unique in its spiritual characteristics, each one has a specific goal and mission, which it must fulfil in order to attain its perfection. Accordingly, each person is created with      a different combination of physical characteristics, strengths and attributes, to enable him to fulfil his given spiritual mission for which he has descended  to  this  world.  Additionally,  every  person  has a different, tailor-made route through which he must pass during his earthly stay, in order for him to reach his own perfection. For this reason, everyone has different trials and tribulations, “ups and downs” that he must overcome. We all have moments in our lives when we feel content, happy, relaxed or calm. On the other hand, there are moments when we feel overwhelmed, challenged, sad or empty.

We should try to understand our individual duty in this world, to define our goal clearly and not to lose sight of it. By doing so, we will be able to channel even our most challenging moments into being part of a purposeful and fulfilling existence, as we steer away from wrongdoing and remain on our defined paths.

The underlying message of the book of Bamidbar is that life has its challenges and its “ups and downs”, as we journey through our phase of life in this world. Recently, my grandmother described the events of her childhood to me. She was orphaned at a very young age from both her parents, witnessed “Kristallnacht, “and escaped with her life from the hands of the Nazis. Today she derives much pride from all her offspring.

Let us keep our heads “above water” and remember that all that we are going through is for our ultimate good, to gain our earned reward in the world to come.

Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach

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