To See the World Through God’s Eye

Posted on June 14, 2024 by Rabbi Arnie Gluck

As the Book of Numbers opens, the Torah is focused on the final preparations for our people’s journey home to the Promised Land. They have crossed the sea to freedom. They have stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah and have renewed their covenant with God. They have built the Tabernacle and consecrated it. Now, final administrative arrangements are at hand, which include taking a census of the tribes of Israel, with a special focus on the priests and Levites and their respective clans, each with their unique place and purpose.

Commentators note something significant about the nature of this counting and accounting. None of the numbers is estimated. All are exact. From this we learn that when it comes to accounting for people, every one counts. Every individual is unique and precious and is to be accorded full and equal dignity, no matter where they are in the social order and whatever role they may fulfill.

The Torah is reminding us that the Jewish people is not an abstract idea or corporate entity. Our people is made up of individuals, each of whom has intrinsic value and without whom our people is not whole. Every member of the Jewish family is to be held dear, even those whose beliefs, opinions, and way of life are different from ours.

This is true not just of the Jewish people, but of every distinct identity; indeed, of the whole human family. In a world that is increasingly divided into “us” and “them” by racial, national, religious, ethnic, and gender identities, and especially political persuasion, it is critical to remember this essential teaching of Torah: that we are, in fact, all the same — that each of our lives is sacred and we are all equally precious in the eyes of God.

It is hard to remember this essential kinship when there is so much hatred in the world. It is hard to think benevolently of those who demonize us. It is hard not to hate those who hate us. And it is dangerous to be naïve about the fact that some are intent on harming us.

It is precisely in such circumstances that Torah comes to challenge us and remind us to see the world and each other from a God’s eye view. It reminds us that God looks upon all of us with love and compassion and sees the good in us, even we fail to see it in ourselves. When our hearts are inclined to harden, the Torah comes to soften them — to remind us of the bigger picture and renew our hopes for the better world that God intends. It reminds us to dream of a day when “false gods will vanish from our hearts, and the world will be perfected under God’s unchallenged rule.” May we live in such a way as to bring that blessed day.


Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Arnie Gluck