I have a friend with whom I went to grade school who was severely dyslexic. Unfortunately, neither secular schools or yeshivas were equipped to handle this disability. He just moved from grade to grade at a slower pace until graduation.

As our lives went forward, we lost touch and I hadn’t seen him for several years until I ran into him recently. He is married and the father of several children. He manages a successful company and is not at all hampered by a negative self-image.

I was surprised. How could that have happened? Where did he get the personal strength to put all those childhood challenges behind him?

I found a moment when I could tactfully ask him these questions and he told me: “First of all, it was my father. He always believed in me. He never made me feel like a failure. Continually, he encouraged me to go forward”.

“And then it was our 10th grade Rabbi. In the middle of High School, he called me over and told me that he thought I could succeed. He told me not to measure myself against others, but to look inside for my own inner voice. He was there for me, time and time again to reassure me that I could make my life meaningful. He made me feel that I am important, that I count for something,”

Parshas Bamidbar

This week’s Torah reading begins the fourth book of the Torah which is called Numbers in English. Why is it given that name? Because the book focuses on several censuses — the first is described in this Torah reading — taken during the journey of the Jewish people through the desert.

What does a census teach us? That everyone is counted the same. Of course, we are different. Some are smarter. Others are stronger and still others have potentials in other areas, but when it comes down to counting, no one is given greater distinction than anyone else.

Why is this? Because there are two fundamental equalizers within the spiritual makeup each one of us possess. First and most fundamentally, every man or woman has a soul that is an actual part of G‑d. The core of each one of us is a spiritual potential that is essential G‑dliness. On the most basic level, when we focus on what is our real “I,” we come to the realization, not of our individual egos, but of this G‑dly spark. Quite obviously, one person’s essential G‑dliness cannot be greater than another’s.

Moreover, even on the level where our individual selves are concerned and we appear to be separate and distinct from each other, we share a fundamental equality. For the unity we share can be pictured by means of the analogy of the human body. Although the limbs and organs differ in form and function, they work in harmony, each contributing a necessary element to the operation of the body. It is not only that the head and the heart are both essential to life. Even our non-essential limbs each contribute a complementary element to our beings that enables us to function optimally. For example, the feet provide mobility through which the senses are exposed to a greater range of stimuli, enabling the brain to collect and process information.

So too, there are head souls, heart souls, and feet souls; each one with a different makeup and each one contributing a quality the other lacks. Every one of us possesses something that can make humanity and the world in which we live better. Indeed, that is the reason why G‑d created every individual person. He made him or her with a mission, endowing him within a unique quality that no one else possesses, so that he or she could express that quality and thus bring about a meaningful and significant change in the world.

These concepts also relate to the Giving of the Torah soon to be commemorated. Our Sages tell us that if even one person had been lacking at Sinai, the Torah would not have been given. Moses would not have received the Torah if one of the simple folk had not been there.

Indeed, this concept is so fundamentally connected with the Jewish people that it is alluded to in their name, Israel (ישראל), for that name is interpreted as an acronym for the phrase יש ששים ריבוי אותיות לתורה, meaning “There are 60 myriads (600,000) letters in the Torah.” Just as every letter is necessary for a Torah scroll and without it, it is disqualified, so too, every Jew is necessary for the success of our people.

Looking to the Horizon

This theme has far-reaching applications. The prophet declares: “You will be gathered in, one by one, O children of Israel.” No matter how dispersed — whether geographically or spiritually — our people will be, G‑d will extend Himself to redeem them. And the redemption will not merely be collective. Instead, it will be “one by one.” G‑d will reach out to every individual and bring out his G‑dly core and in that way, lead him or her to the Redemption.

This is not merely a vision of the future, it is also a directive on how to make that future present. By reaching out to every person and showing him the inner spark of G‑dliness he possesses, we can spread the spiritual motif that will characterize that future era.

In that time, we will appreciate the G‑dliness that lies within our souls and within every created being. By making ourselves and others conscious of that G‑dliness, we can anticipate — and in that way — precipitate the revelation of this G‑dliness in the world at large.