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The beginning of the portion Ki Tisa talks about counting the Israelites, and, interestingly, the Zohar says that in order to make sure blessings not only come down but are also maintained, we need to be careful not to count the Israelites. But, that doesn’t seem to make sense; counting our blessings is a positive thing, right? We want to count our blessings and know how much goodness we’ve received from the Light of the Creator, don’t we?
The Zohar tells us no; that neither blessings nor the Light, can rest on anything that’s counted. Because when we count a blessing, we end it. But what does that really mean?
To begin this understanding, the kabbalists use an example: Let’s say we are standing in front of a king, and he’s giving us a gift of money. Would it be right for us to start counting the coins right then and there to see how much he is giving us? No. When the king is giving us a gift, we don’t look at the coins and count them; we look at the face of the king. If we keep looking at the face of the king while our hand is outstretched and he is giving us coins, he will continue giving us coins. But the second we start counting them, the king not only stops giving them to us but also removes his gaze.
When we start counting the gifts we receive, on a deeper level, the kabbalists tell us that we also stop receiving. Therefore, to actually have a constant flow of blessings, when we’re receiving the gift, we have to look not at what we are receiving, but rather, at the face of the Light. And if we do that, then the gifts and blessings keep coming, and the Light never stops giving.
So, how can we make sure that the blessings we receive are truly endless?
There is a section from the Zohar, in Ekev, which tells us that the secret of the blessings is to draw them from above to below. For example, if we have a seed and we want it to become something bigger, like a tree, the moment we put it in the ground, our request is not that the Light of the Creator bless the seed, but rather, that the blessing which begins in the seed continues to multiply further and further, to grow into a fruitful tree, and is, therefore, a real blessing. A real blessing is one that continues to multiply forever, and every blessing that we receive is actually meant to multiply forever.
As such, in order to make sure that the blessings we have multiply forever, we have to first know that a real blessing is something that multiplies forever. If it stops multiplying, if it stops bringing us more blessings, it’s because we’ve done something to end its flow. However, as long as the individual keeps looking towards the Creator, knowing that everything that is happening is only from the hand of the Creator, then the Light will never cease to increase that blessing. But if a person allows his ego to get in the way, even for one moment, and say that the blessings are all coming from him, then the Creator stops gazing at that person, and no further blessing can reside there.
The only way a blessing can become what it’s truly meant to be - which is a constantly multiplying flow - is when we do not even have 1% of our ego involved in it; when we look at our kids, our health, our business, or at anything, really, and think “this is mine,” that indicates counting. And when we start making those blessings “mine,” we make it so that the Light of the Creator can no longer look at us, and the flow of that blessing stops.
How do we make sure that the gifts continue to always be given? By never making them “mine.” We make sure the Light continues to flow by having a constantly growing and overwhelming appreciation for what we have. When an individual stops appreciating - which, of course, is human nature - and does not continue to push himself to greater appreciate the Light of the Creator that is infused into the blessings that he has with him, it stops the flow of the Light into that blessing, and it can no longer grow. It might take five, ten, or fifty years for it to die off, but he or she, with that consciousness, has made it so that the Light of the Creator is cut off from that gift.
The reason we lose appreciation for a blessing is because we make that blessing “mine.” This happens a lot with relationships; usually, when people are dating, they’re trying to get the man or woman to like them, and there’s appreciation, because it’s not theirs yet. But once it’s theirs, appreciation lessens or stops completely… and once it’s “theirs,” there is no flow of the Light of the Creator. In order to allow the flow of the Light to continue being infused into our blessings, therefore, we need to constantly push ourselves to grow overwhelming appreciation for the gifts that we already have, never making them “mine.” Because, as we learned, if there is no flow of the Light, the blessing cannot grow. Unfortunately, that’s what most of us do with most of our blessings in life. However, as we understand from the portion Ki Tisa, if we stop counting our blessings, we can make sure that their limitless flow from the Light of the Creator not only continues but even becomes greater and greater.