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Ultimately, the way we view and treat others, will craft the way they will view and treat us too.

Rabbi Allouche

Some things are lost in translation.

In the opening verse of this week’s portion, G-d commands Moses to count the Jewish people: “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them…”

Yet, at a deeper glance, G-d does not command Moses to “take a census” of His people. Rather, he commands him to “elevate” (in Hebrew, “Tisa”) His people. The difference between “taking a census” and “elevating” is enormous.

When we count people, all we see is their bodies. When we “elevate” people, we also see their souls.

When we count people, we value them for who they seem to be. When we “elevate” people we value them for who they can, and will, be.

When we count people, we place our faith in finite numbers. When we elevate people we place our faith in infinite potentials.

And most importantly, when we count people, we evoke in them a response of “here I am.” When we “elevate” people, we evoke in them a response of “there – so, so high – there, I will be!”

It is, thus. no wonder that when Moses “elevates” the Jewish people, they respond accordingly, as they unlock their hearts and give generously to the construction of a tabernacle for G-d in the desert. In fact, they gave so abundantly, that, at one point, Moses had to ask them to stop giving. Because, ultimately, the way we view and treat others, will craft the way they will view and treat us too. 

After we launched our Mitzvah Campaign a few months ago (which aims to gather 2000 Mitzvahs in loving memory of my beloved mentor, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz until his first Yahrzeit coming up in July – please keep sending your Mitzvahs to MitzvahForRavAdin@bethtefillahaz.org), I received an email from a man, with the question:  “Do you really believe that one Mitzvah can change a person? What do you really think you can accomplish, especially with Mitzvahs that don’t last longer than 2 minutes?”

I responded: “I try not to see people as ‘physical beings’; instead I see them as ‘souls’. And when a soul is ignited with a mitzvah, its potential is unleashed, and its light then shines further and wider than the eye can see. 

So how will we treat, and count, our spouses, children, friends, and even strangers? Will we see them as bodies or as souls? Will we count them or elevate them? Will we address their limits, or spark their fire within?