“Lo sofrim oti” (No one “counts” me)

Friday, 14 May, 2021 - 10:17 am

 “Lo sofrim oti” (No one “counts” me). This is a sentence that I hear a lot from people, in different variations.

I would say that this characterizes many of those who come to consult with me, be they teenagers or adults. The feeling that I am weak, insignificant, not influential, nobody listens to me, nobody takes me seriously. This is a feeling common to almost everybody who has ever opened his heart to me.

My role is usually a double one: One, to show him or her that that is not really so; the surrounding people do take him into account to a certain extent. At the same time, I must try to explain to him that he himself has to see himself as worth taking into account, as important, and then others will take him into account more, too. Because that’s the way it is: Why should anyone count me, if I don’t really count myself in?

In this week’s parasha, all of us are counted. Hashem counts the Jewish people, each and every one. It says in the holy books that counting has power – there is a Talmudic rule regarding kashrut that says, that “something that can be counted cannot be considered non-existent”. from this we learn the importance of the Hashem’s counting the Jewish People: they are present, significant.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe adds that there is a reason why a person is counted only if he is twenty years old already. That is the age when a person goes out into the world, whether to build his own home or in general, and that is the moment when he needs a buttressing of this power, of being strong and resilient, of being counted. That is also the reason that Hashem wanted to count the Jews in this world, even though He, of course, does not need Moshe Rabbeinu to know how many Jews there are. There was a goal here: the material world, with all its laws, nature and boundaries should also know that each and every one here is being counted in; each and every one has power, is important. And yes, each and every one can do and succeed.

One more thing that is worthwhile remembering in general: In mashechet Pesachim the story is told of Rav Yosef, the son of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, who weakened and his soul left him. When he came back to life, his father asked him: “What did you see?” He answered: “I saw an upside-down world. The top ones are on the bottom, and the bottom ones are on the top.” In other words, those people who are considered important in this material world have no importance in the World of Truth, and others, who are not considered at all highly down here, have a highly important status up there. Said Rav Yosef to his son: “My son, you have seen a clear world.”


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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