We are separate so that we may find unity.
We are different so that we may choose harmony.
We are varied so that we may discover the many ways in which we are surprisingly the same.
This week, we read the portion of Bamidbar the first chapter in the book of Numbers. It is in this story that the Israelites themselves are counted, or ‘numbered.’ Why would the Creator ask to know how many followers He has? After all, He is the Creator. Wouldn’t he already know in his omnipresence? Thankfully, we have the Zohar to shed Light on the subject.
There were 600,000 souls accounted for. Just as there were 600,000 when they were in Egypt, 600,000 when they left Egypt, and 600,000 when they were wandering in the desert. And there were how many when they entered the land of Israel? You guessed it! 600,000. Now, how could this be? So much had happened in between each of those periods; individuals passed away, and babies were born, yet the number did not change. The Zohar reveals that 600,000 is the number of sparks of the Creator’s Light that are scattered within all the souls here on Earth. There are billions of people on the planet, many of whom share the same spark as you or me. (By the way, when you meet someone and you instantly feel an attraction or a soul connection with them, this is often why.)
It is no coincidence that the Torah also has exactly 600,000 letters when we count both the black letters and the white letters. The black are the letters we see, while the white, the inverse space between the black, are the letters we don't see. If just a single black or white letter is missing, it invalidates the entire Torah. What is the Torah trying to teach us?
We are all a part of the divine force known as the creative Light. We may seem fragmented, yet we are all connected at the core. Just as each letter in the Torah has a purpose, so too does each person. And that purpose is to help each other. For it is only through our combined strengths – the union of all our sparks – that we make up the sum of the whole. This is why mutual respect and human dignity for all peoples, even those whose ways are different from our own, is so important. We are meant to be different; we are meant to be varied, and yet to act as One.
This is a powerful week to practice unity. This doesn’t mean that we need to become best buddies with everyone. We don’t need to all hold hands and sing kumbaya. We just need to be cognizant of each other’s worth, of the value in each spark that is unique unto itself. We all have people who push our buttons – maybe we don’t even know why, something about them just annoys us, right? Well, this is a good week to do something nice for those individuals. Send them an email with words of encouragement or a virtual gift certificate. These may seem like small things, yet it is within the small kindnesses that we build bridges where once there were walls. This is how we become more united, more inspired, and inch closer every day to a world more at peace.