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Bamidbar. Making the Heart Count

And just like that, we find ourselves in the desert (lit. Ba'midbar).

The truth is, we were already there.

But we open a new book, and every new beginning starts with an assessment of where we are.

It is not for nothing that this first parasha of the book of Bamidbar includes so many censuses - at least three times, the population of Bnei Israel is counted.

We count to remember that we count, that each one counts.

Today, first day of Sivan, Friday, June 7, it feels like we have been counting for too long.

Today it will be exactly 8 months since war of October 7 began, and we continue to count our dead, our captives, our wounded, our tears, and our hope.

A few days before the great revelation of Sinai, while the Lebanese front burns in Israel, just the hatred in too many human hearts, for us too, it is time for an assessment.

In the Jewish tradition, the accounting of accounting is the accounting of the soul, cheshbon nefesh. חשבון נפש

The Ishbitzer Rebbe does not use this term in his commentary.

But this is what he seems to be alluding to, when commenting on what seems to be a simple localization in the opening verse (Bamidbar, 1:1)

במדבר סיני באהל מועד.

"In the desert of Sinai, in the tent of meeting..."

Far beyond geography, he interprets location in a spiritual sense. Turning the geographical redundancy into an ethical issue:

How to determine the value of human action?

"And even when it comes to a person's mind to do something good, he must still refine and clean his heart."

והוא כי אף כשיבא לאדם במחשבתו לעשות אף דבר טוב צריך האדם לראות שיהיה לבו מזוכך ומנוקה

Knowing ourselves to be in the desert, in one sense, is not enough for the Ishbitze rebbe.

We must also choose to enter the tent of meeting, the place dedicated to encountering the divine. We must take one more step inside.

This is what it means to cleanse one's heart.

For the Hasidic master, it is not enough to have a good intention.

Our intention must be, at core, "good".

And every deeply good intention, he reminds us, comes from a "clarified" heart: a conscious awareness, cleansed of the inclination that trouble us, aligned with Truth.

Today, as the idea of "information" has been replaced a sum of opinions spread by the most charismatic on social networks, as the idea of factual truth is disturbed by belongings and ideological issues, as we are at the beginning of a new period of war between Israel and Hezbollah in addition to Hamas, as some fear civil wars in France and America, between the rising ultra-right and the rising ultra-left, it is time once again, more than ever, to return to the heart:

We just have to embody the change we want to see in the world. Yes the desert is lonely, but what else to do? We gotta keep walking.

What if today, just a few days before the great gift at Sinai, just like the Bnei Israel, standing in wait at the foot of the mountain during their preparatory purifications, we ourselves, took a moment to clarify our hearts?

Just that. In the light of consciousness, clarify our souls.

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