George Rohr is a businessman who supports many Lubavitch activities. He had been inspired by the Rebbe on many occasions and wanted to find some way to repay the Rebbe. One year, when the Rebbe personally distributed lekach (the honey cake traditionally given out before Yom Kippur to convey blessings for a sweet year), George happily told the Rebbe that he had organized a minyan on Rosh HaShanah for 150 Jews with no Jewish background.

The Rebbe’s facial impression immediately turned very serious. He looked at Rohr intently and told him: “Go and tell each of the 150 participants that they possess a very powerful Jewish background. They are all descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.”

Every Jew is endowed with the same spiritual heritage and every Jew has an equal share in the Torah and its commandments. What we need are catalysts; spurs to prompt us to focus on that heritage and highlight its expression.

Parshas Bamidbar

This week’s Torah reading begins the Book of Numbers, a book given its name because of its focus on several census takings of the Jewish people.

Why did G‑d ask that the Jews be counted?

Our Sages state: “Because He cherishes them, He counts them at all times. Like a rich man counting his gold, G‑d continually counts what is dearest to Him — the Jewish people.”

A census also focuses on a quality that is particularly relevant regarding the Jewish people: their essential equality. For when taking a census, everyone — those with the highest potentials and those on the lowest levels — count equally. No one is given greater priority than anyone else.

Each Jew possesses a soul that is an actual part of G‑d. G‑d loves us so much that He invests a dimension of Himself inside every one of us. At the core of each person — regardless of who he thinks he is and how much he has achieved — lies a spark of G‑d. That is who we really are. When we shed all externals, this soul is the essence of our being. At this level, we are all equal. Therefore, when taking a census, every one of us is counted the same.

Taking a census also brings this dimension to the surface. It is not enough merely to know that we have a spark of G‑d within ourselves, we must endeavor to act in a manner that expresses the oneness within our being in our day-to-day conduct. This involves highlighting the G‑dly spark present within every person and every entity that we encounter.

Looking to the Horizon

Our Sages relate that there have been nine censuses taken in Jewish history. The tenth and final census will be taken at the time of the coming of Mashiach when the essential quality that lies at the core of every Jewish soul will be flourish in complete manifestation.

At present, most of us are involved with the day-to-day details of our personal lives. These are the factors that command much of our attention. In the era of the Redemption, when “The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G‑d,” this will change. In Jewish mysticism, ten is a symbol of consummate fulfillment. Similarly, taking the tenth census will serve as a cue that it is necessary to move to a different level of consciousness, one that allows our inner core to be expressed. In this way, it will encourage us to bring out our inner G‑dly potential in every facet of our lives.