He knew there was a queue and one had to take a ticket with a number. But he didn’t know where the ticket machine was. I showed him and he was amazed – not at my cleverness, nor at the concept, but at the fact that it needed a whole freestanding machine to issue the tickets.
“Such a big machine for such a small ticket!” he said to me in Hebrew. I smiled and wished him a good day. Then I started thinking about this week’s d’var Torah.
Moses prays to God to find him the right successor: “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation who will go out before them and come in before them, who will lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep without a shepherd” (Num. 27:16-17). I know this verse well: it is generally read when a rabbi is inducted into office.
Why does it call HaShem “the God of the spirits of all flesh”? The sages say it means that God understands the varying spirit and personality of every one of His creatures, and a leader must likewise recognise that every member of his community is unique and different.
Why this matters is clear from the mood of our age. People are the crowd. The individual is a number. The machine tells me who I am and where I fit in. If I don’t have a ticket I don’t exist.