Finding Your Place at Sinai (Bemidbar/Naso/Shavuot)
Parshas Bemidbar & Nasso - Bemidbar/Numbers 1:1 - 4:20 & 4:21 - 7:89
We just celebrated Shavuot (the Festival of Weeks), and we also began reading and studying the book of Bemidbar (Numbers).
Bemidbar begins with logistics - appointing leaders, taking censuses, organizing the camp, and delegating duties. It seems like this doesn't have much to do with Shavuot and the giving of the Torah, but the connection provides a valuable and empowering message for all of us.
THE PURPOSE OF TORAH
Shavuot is Z'man Matan Torahteinu, the Time of the Giving of our Torah. The Torah contains the blueprint for building a set-apart dwelling for Elohim in the earth. Not a physical building for Him to reside in, but the earth itself.
The mitzvot (commandments) contain the instructions and procedures for making the earth and all its inhabitants set-apart so that the Presence of YAHUAH can once again dwell in the earth with His people - as in the Garden of Eden.
YAH’s will is for us to obey Torah and do our part to make this world a dwelling for His Presence.
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
All the logistics in the opening chapters of Bemidbar give us an important message: everyone has his place and everyone has his role. No person is without a place and a duty in this world.
Everyone in Yisrael was counted in the census, “each one head by head” (Bem/Num. 1:18).
Everyone pitched his tent “by his own camp, everyone by his own banner” (Bem/Num. 1:52).
Everyone was organized under his father’s house, clan, and tribe.
Everyone had a station - on the north, south, east, or west side of the Dwelling Place.
Everyone had a marching order - first, second, third, or fourth to depart.
Everyone served and was registered in their division of the army of Yisrael.
Everyone of the Levites had his duty and service in transporting the Dwelling Place.
Every single person had a role and a place in Yisrael.
The only way we can make this world better and into a dwelling place for Elohim is if everyone - each one of us - knows his role and his place.
Everyone counts. Everyone matters.
KNOW YOUR ROLE
Each of us has “our share in Torah,” meaning we each have a specific role in accomplishing the purpose of Torah, in making the world set-apart.
Every person has a unique role to play in this mission. Everyone's role is specific to him/her. No one can do another person’s role.
Sure, one could try to do someone else's role, but he wouldn’t be as successful as the person made for that role, nor would he be as successful as he would be doing his own role.
We're at our best when we're doing what we’re meant to do.
Don’t know your role? Consider these questions:
What are you good at? These are the talents and abilities YAHUAH gave you to accomplish your duty in the earth.
Where are you successful? Not necessarily in making money, but in what do you excel and receive recognition for? This is an indication of what you're good at, if you're unsure.
What do people come to you for or rely on you for? This is an indicator of what you can contribute to the world.
When do you feel the deepest joy? Not just moments when you’re happy, but when you feel the deepest sense of joy and completeness. This is a clue to your purpose.
Above all, seek YAHUAH. Pray and ask Him daily to reveal your role to you.
In the meantime, do your utmost to serve Him. When we show that we’re a dedicated servant, He’ll give us our job assignment.
KNOW YOUR PLACE
We have to know our role, and we also have to know our place. Sometimes, we hear “know your place” in a negative sense, like when someone’s trying to knock you down a step, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Knowing your place isn’t belittling. It’s empowering!
At Sinai, there were three levels: Moshe was at the top of the mountain, Aharon & the elders were some distance up the mountain, and the people were at the foot. No one could break through and go to another level. (Shem/Ex. 19 & 24)
Even if someone had broken through to a higher level, it would not have benefited him. Everyone was at a place where he could hear and receive.
If anyone broke through to a higher level physically, he would still be unable to receive that level of set-apartness emanating from YAH’s Presence because spiritually, he was not at that level. Each person could only receive at his or her level.
So, too, we have to know our place. If we try to be ‘higher’ than where we’re supposed to be, it won’t benefit us. We will not be nourished and nurtured at that place. We can only receive and benefit at a level that we’re capable of receiving from.
It does take a measure of humility to be where we're supposed to be and not try to be someone or something higher than what we are. It’s humility that makes us truly powerful because when we’re in the right place and at our level, then everything comes together!
If we humbly accept our place, we’ll find that all will work together to help us fulfill our role. We’ll find that filling our position is much easier, more joyous, and more satisfying than trying to fill someone else’s position.
Being in the wrong place may cause us to struggle. Our surroundings won't be conducive to us fulfilling our role. We’ll be expending energy trying to fill a position that wasn’t meant for us.
It’s like a beautiful flowering plant. It will only grow when planted where it’s supposed to be. A rose bush will struggle in sandy soil, but a cactus will flourish and even flower.
Knowing your place helps you to receive the nourishment you need and puts you in a place where you can better fulfill your role.
Also, knowing our place benefits the entire nation. In the nation of Yisrael, everything is organized, as shown in the opening chapters of Bemidbar. If someone is out of place, not doing his/her role, the whole system/nation struggles.
It’s like an automobile factory: if someone is not at his station, then something will be missing in that car. If someone is trying to do someone else’s job that he wasn’t trained to do, then that part may come out flawed. Either way, the car is not going to be assembled correctly and, therefore, will not function properly.
Only when everyone is at his place, doing what he’s supposed to be doing, does everything run smoothly.
OUR PLACE IN COMMUNITY
Knowing our place is also about knowing where we fit in the community of Yisrael. Everyone in Yisrael had a place - in their father’s house, in their clan, in their tribe, and in the camp.
We have to find our place in the community of Yisrael. A community provides spiritual, social, emotional, and physical support.
Where do you fit in? Who are you part of?
Many people have the idea that they don’t have to “join” any group, and that’s ok. They are free to think or believe however they want.
But that’s not how Yisrael operated.
Everyone was a part of something bigger than himself. The only man alone was a leper (who cleansed himself and then rejoined the camp) or someone who was cut off for his transgressions. Everyone else was part of a larger network - a house, a family, a clan, a tribe, a nation.
Family of Messiah is a community of Yisrael. We are part of Yisrael - not separated from nor replacing Yisrael. We have a banner, we have a flag, and we have a mission, our role in the nation and in the world.
We have our place in Yisrael, and those with us have a place in Yisrael. They join with us and then learn their place within our camp, how and where they serve. In our camp, there is structure, organization, leadership, and purpose.
Everyone has to find a community - a camp and a banner where they can pitch their tent.
NOW IS THE TIME
At Shavuot, we heard the words of the Covenant and renewed our commitment to do and obey His voice. Now that we’ve accepted His Torah, we must be mindful of its ultimate purpose: to bring about the will of Elohim in the earth - to make a set-apart dwelling for YAHUAH.
What is your role in YAH’s plan? What is your contribution to making the world more set-apart?
At Sinai, everyone stood at His level to receive the Torah, and there YAHUAH established an orderly camp with everyone at his place and station.
What is your level? Where is your place in the community of Yisrael?
As we near the end of the age, it's time to truly seek YAHUAH on these matters. Time is winding down, and we have work to do.