Counting On the Rebound

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

In the portion of the Torah read this week, G‑d commands Moses to take a census of the Jewish people. For all the tribes other than the tribe of Levi, he was instructed to count every male "twenty years old or more" (Numbers 1:3, 47-49). Following this, the tribes are assigned their positions in the desert encampment and traveling formation.

The Levites were then counted separately, "every male, one-month old or more" (Numbers 3:15), according to the three Levite clans descended from the three sons of Levi - Gershon, Kehot, and Merari. They were then assigned their respective positions in the encampment and traveling formation.

Finally, at the end of the portion (Numbers 4:10-20) begins the detailed instructions for each Levite clan in the process of dismantling and carrying the Tabernacle whenever the Jewish people were commanded to continue their trek in the desert. The instructions for the sons of Kehot close the portion, and the instructions for the sons of Gershon and Merari continue at the beginning of the following portion of the Torah, Naso (Numbers 4:21-28 and 29-34, respectively). Together with these instructions is the command to count the members of each clan eligible for service, that is, "from thirty years old until fifty years old" (Numbers 4:3, 23, 30).

The overall tribe of Levi is the source of the five states of gevura…

The Torah calls counting each tribe or Levite clan "lifting up its head." Thus we read:

And G‑d spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: "Lift up the head of the sons of Kehot from amongst the sons of Levi, according to their families and their fathers' houses…." (Numbers 4:1-2), and And G‑d spoke to Moses, saying: "Lift up the head of the sons of Gershon as well, according to their fathers' houses and their families…." (Numbers 4:21-22)

However, with regard to the clan of Merari, the Torah simply says: The sons of Merari, number them according to their families and their fathers' houses (Numbers 4:29). The expression "lift up the head of…" is not used. Also, we note that in the cases of the Kehot and Merari clans, the order of the census is "according to their families and their fathers' houses", while in the case of the clan of Gershon, this is reversed: "according to their fathers' houses and their families". The Arizal explains these differences according to Kabbala.

The overall tribe of Levi is the source of the five states of gevura, known as the "crown of gevura", the feminine portion.

Love and fear of G‑d are the two 'wings' with which a person's service to G‑d takes flight…

Kabbala and Chasidut explain that love and fear of G‑d are the two "wings" with which a person's service to G‑d takes flight. That is, a person can perfunctorily perform all the Torah's commandments, but unless he does so out of love and fear of G‑d, his service does not connect him consciously to G‑d. He may be doing G‑d's will, and he will affect the world and receive his due reward for this; however, he is performing G‑d's will incompletely, for G‑d desires that we serve Him enthusiastically as well.

Thus, love and fear should characterize the service of G‑d. The sefirot that correspond to love and fear are chesed and gevura, respectively. In the microcosm of divine service, the holy Temple, the priests (Kohanim) personified the sefira of chesed and the Levites the sefira of gevura. The priests performed their duties quietly and calmly, evoking the image of still water, while the Levites were the choir and orchestra, arousing the emotions of the Jewish people looking on, and evoking the image of passion and fire.

In order to concretize the reality of divinity in this world, the female must evince great strength and power…

Kabbala considers chesed and love the male side of reality, and gevura and fear/awe, the female side. (There are of course many cross-manifestations of this dualism, but these are the exceptions or sub-categories rather than the rule.) In a general way, this accords with what we have said previously about male-female approaches to life the world, i.e. that the male is the more abstract emphasis, while the female is the more concrete. In order to concretize the reality of divinity in this world, the female must evince great strength and power so as not to be overcome by the distracting forces of evil. She derives this power, of course, from the inspiration she takes from the male. In this context, the male is the giver and she is the recipient. What the Arizal will describe briefly, in the coming paragraphs, is how the main female partzuf, the Nukva of Zeir Anpin, is constructed from the gevura-aspects of the preceding sefirot.

In any case, we see from this that the priest-Levite combination is the source and archetype for the duality of male-female.

This is why it is written in parashat Bamidbar: "Do not count them together with the children of Israel." (Numbers 1:49) They are the states of gevura set aside for the female. Still, [the Levites manifest these states of gevura as] they exist inside Zeir Anpin, before they are given to Nukva. They themselves are therefore male. After [these states of gevura] are given to Nukva they become female states of gevura, i.e. women and not men.

As we said, the female receives her power from the inspiration she derives from the male. Thus, her states of gevura are derived from the gevura in the male.

Now, these states of gevura are divided into several categories. There are two general categories, each of which subdivides into three sub-categories.

The first category has three sub-categories: (1) The crown of gevura, which comprises the five states of gevura, and is situated at the level of the brain of daat of Nukva. This is the source of the five states of gevura [that will be described as the next sub-category]; (2) the five states of gevura as they spread further through her body, i.e. from her chesed to her hod; (3) the aggregate composed of the preceding states. These are called the five states of gevura of "the feminine waters", in her yesod.

In the first category, we have the five states of gevura at the levels of (1) daat, (2) chesed to hod, and (3) yesod. Just, as the main aspect of any world is its emotions (middot/Zeir Anpin), so too, the main aspect of any partzuf is its middot. Here, then, the chief manifestation of the five states of gevura is in the second sub-category, that is, the "body" of the partzuf of Nukva. The first sub-category is the intellectual origin of these states, while the third sub-category is their drive for expression.

Daat is distinguished from chochma and bina by its subjective character. Whereas the focus in chochma and bina is on the "idea" per se (its force and power or development and ramifications), in daat the idea is analyzed vis-a-vis its implications for the person. This is the origin within the intellect of emotional response. Since chesed and gevura are the primary emotions, this means that there is a proto-chesed and a proto-gevura within daat.

Yesod…not an emotion of content but of drive…

Yesod is where all the previous emotions coalesce; it is therefore not an emotion of content but of drive. The five emotions of content are chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, and hod. Since these are five in number, there are in daat five aspects or states of proto-chesed and five of proto-gevura. The five states of gevura within daat act thus as a sort of keter to the subsequent, bona fide states, so they are collectively called the "crown of gevura".

When the higher sefirot pour into yesod, their respective aspects of gevura coalesce as well into an aggregate gevura. This gevura powers the "feminine waters" of yesod, which is a term for the power of the female yesod to arouse the male yesod and inspire him to couple with her. Yesod is in essence oriented "down", i.e. toward the lower level, malchut, acting as the drive for expression which is the quintessence of the female. But this aggregate gevura in yesod is oriented upward, back toward Zeir Anpin, to arouse it to re-charge, re-inspire, and re-inseminate its Nukva in order that she be able to continue her task of spreading divinity in the world with the requisite inspiration.

The second category has three sub-categories of its own: (1) The five states of gevura given to her when her partzuf is first formed and completed - these are given to her for the construction of her body and skeleton; (2) her first set of five states of gevura given to her after her body has been completed - Zeir Anpin transfers [these states of gevura] to her via her yesod in their first sexual intercourse, which [is what] turns her into a vessel; (3) an additional, new set of five states of gevura that he transfers to her via her yesod in their subsequent intercourse. Whenever they couple [after the first time], he gives her a new set of five states of gevura.

This second category of gevura-states relates to the intrinsic construction of the partzuf itself and its insemination by Zeir Anpin. The first category could be seen as being aspects of all three sub-categories of the second category. That is, when Nukva is first constructed, she is given gevura-aspects in her daat, her middot, and her yesod, and the same is true whenever she couples with Zeir Anpin.

chanoch adds: This is the reason that virginity is prized in earlier generations.

The three clans of the Levites - Gershon, Kehot, and Merari - manifest the three sub-categories, but I [Rabbi Chaim Vital] do not remember whether they manifest the sub-categories of the first category or the second.

The numerical value of "Gershon" [559] is the same [with the kolel] as that of the word for "flask" [in Hebrew, "keset", 560] in the phrase "the flask of the scribe" (Ezekiel 9:2-3, 11). His clan manifests the five states of gevura indicated by the five final letters: mem, nun, tzadik, peh, chaf, whose combined numerical value is 280. Since these letters have two forms, their numerical value may be doubled, giving 560, which again, is the numerical value of the word for "flask".

The five letters that have final forms…are like the flask that holds and contains the ink…

A main manifestation of the five states of gevura is the five organs of speech in the mouth: the throat, the palate, the teeth, the lips, and the tongue. These are seen as five "dams" that stop or give form to the amorphous breath rising from the lungs. Since they limit, restrain, form, and give definition to the breath, they are seen as five states or aspects of gevura. In the alphabet, this phenomenon is reflected in the five letters that have final forms, i.e. special forms when these letters appear at the end of a word. They are thus, allegorically, like the flask that holds and contains the ink.

[The clan of] Gershon is, as we said, one of the three sub-categories. It comprises the five states of gevura that spread through the body of Nukva. As is known, these five states of gevura descend rapidly to the yesod of Nukva and rebound upward from that level as reflected light. [In this process, this light] reaches her keter, thus [spreading] through her entire partzuf. This is similar to how the states of chesed descend into the yesod of Zeir Anpin and rebound upward as reflected light.

Although above Rabbi Chaim Vital said he was not sure if the three clans of Levites correspond to the sub-categories of the first or second category, here he seems to take it for granted that they correspond to those of the first category.

The reflected light here is the "feminine waters" described above. In the process of being reflected, the light that ricochets off yesod gains the power of yesod; together with the residual power of its own descent, this enables it to re-ascend to a point higher than its point of origin. Reaching keter means that the overall will of her entire being is overtaken and permeated with the will to be united with Zeir Anpin.

As we have also explained, the first three states of gevura of Nukva are hidden; only the latter two states - her netzach and hod - are revealed. These latter states are the only ones that ascend [in this process] and thus become revealed.

It will be recalled that the five states of gevura correspond to and are manifest in the five sefirot from chesed to hod. The Arizal explains elsewhere (Mevo She'arim 6:1:5, 132b) that when the five states of gevura become manifest in these sefirot of Nukva, they do not do so in a uniform manner. Rather the first three [chesed, gevura, and tiferet] remained clothed within a sheath, which derives from the yesod of Zeir Anpin. Only the latter two, netzach and hod, enter yesod "exposed".

Psychologically, we could say that this means that the light at the level of the first three states of gevura, i.e. those of the three primary emotions, retain a certain measure of the consciousness of their source in Zeir Anpin. This precludes them from truly becoming vested in the yesod of Nukva, since a primary emotion is too much a matter of feeling to be diverted to the path leading toward practical action. Only netzach and hod, which are already much more action-oriented than the first three states, can be said to truly enter and be actively present within yesod. The other three are there, but they are cloaked by their memory of their origin.

Thus, only netzach and hod are touched directly by the identity and power of yesod, the drive for fulfillment, and thus experience the rebounding energy sending them back up to the keter of Nukva, as above.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "Lift up the head of the sons of Gershon" (Num. 4:22). Counting them is referred to as "lifting up their head", alluding to their ascent in order to shine, as we have explained. It is for this reason as well that only those that had attained the age of thirty were counted, for only such individuals derive from the upper three, covered states of gevura, each of which comprises ten [sub-states], giving thirty [aspects, or] years. These are the only ones that need light shined upon them, therefore only those [Levites] thirty years old and older are counted.

G‑d commanded Moses to count all the Levites between the ages of thirty and fifty (for the purpose of service in the Temple). The wording of the command in the Hebrew, however, is split into two clauses. The first ("from age thirty and higher") implies only that those who had attained at least thirty years were counted. The fact that only those over-thirty-year-olds who were under fifty were in fact counted is not made clear until the second clause ("until age fifty") is stated. Thus, the verse seems to imply that the main factor is being over thirty; being under fifty is only an afterthought.

By counting the thirty-year old Levites, we are forcing them to participate in this rebounding ascent, as well. In this way, the gevura-states of chesed-gevura-tiferet can also experience the illumination naturally experienced by the netzach-hod states.

However, since there are in total five states of gevura, [the Levites] are counted up to age fifty, for they all form a single unit.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim and Likutei Torah, Parashat Naso; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

The Naphtali Census

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

"The sons of Naphtali, their offspring, according to their families, according to their fathers’ houses…" (Num. 1:42)

Parashat Bemidbar opens with G‑d’s command to Moses and Aaron to take the census of the Jewish people. The results of the census are given for each tribe in the form: "For the sons of X, their offspring, according to their families, according to their fathers’ houses, the number of names from twenty years old up, all those subject to conscription, those counted of the tribe of X: Y," where X is the name of the tribe and Y the number of persons counted.

It is appropriate to note that with regard to all the tribes, the expression "for the sons of.." is used, while in the case of the last tribe, Naphtali, it says only "the sons of.." and not "for." (Sha’ar HaPesukim and Likeitei Torah, parashat Bemidbar)

...the heads of the tribes and their scribes circulated throughout the whole camp of Israel...

The reason for this is as follows: When they wanted to count the Jews, the heads of the tribes and their scribes circulated throughout the whole camp of Israel, standing at the entry of every tent, writing in their tablet the names of those who lived in each tent, in the form: "So-and-so the son of So-and-so of the tribe of so-and-so," and so forth. They did this until they finished counting all the households of Israel.

Then, they took this tablet [in which the names of] thousands of individuals were randomly written, and had to divide it up into lists of the members of each tribe on a separate sheet.

In order to do this, they began with the first [random] list, removing first all the names belonging to the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn, by [reading off these names], saying, "Record So-and-so the son of So-and-so on the list of the tribe of such-and-such." [The scribes] would then write these names individually [on the first of the separate list].

They then returned to [the beginning of] the random list and proceeded to remove all the names belonging to the tribe of Simeon from it, writing them in the second of the separate lists, "this is for the sons of Simeon."

They did this for each of the first eleven tribes.

When they finished the first eleven tribes, only one tribe was left, i.e., Naphtali. In his case, they did not need to return [to the beginning of the random list] and remove [the names belonging to this tribe] in order to write them on another list, for by this time there were no longer any [names belonging] to other tribes mixed in with this tribe; only it was left.

They therefore counted [the tribe of Naphtali] from the existing list, and they said simply, "such-and-such is the number of the sons of Naphtali that are left [on this list]."

Whereas in the case of the other [tribes] that had to be tallied on separate lists, it is written "for the tribe of So-and-so" meaning, "This person written here [on the random list] must be joined with the tribe of Simeon, or Reuben, etc." The remaining, [unerased (or checked-off)] names on the first list were [by default] of the tribe of Naphtali.

We see from this excerpt that the Arizal did not only focus on the esoteric dimension of the Torah; he also occasionally explained the basic, contextual meaning (peshat) of Scripture.

Excerpted from "Apples From the Orchard" – Gleanings from the Mystical Teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Arizal) on the Weekly Torah Portion, translation and commentary by Rabbi Moshe Wisnefsky.

Standards of Celestial Conduct

Moses arranged the tribes according to the pattern of the celestial worlds.

From Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman's commentary on the Torah

"Every man shall encamp by his own standard, with the sign of their fathers house." (Num. 2:2)

Each standard was to have a colored cloth hanging in it, the color of one being unlike the color of another. The color of each standard corresponded to that of the stone fixed in the breastplate [of the High Priest, on which the name of that scribe was engraved], and by this method everyone would recognize his standard. (Rashi)

On Reuben's standard there was a figure of a man decorated with mandrakes….

But Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra commented: "There were signs on each of the [four main] standards. Thus the ancients sages said that on Reuben's standard there was a figure of a man decorated with mandrakes, and on Judah's standard there was the form of a lion, to which Jacob had compared him, and on Ephraim's standard was the figure of an ox, based upon [the expression that Moses used in speaking of that tribe], "the firstborn of his ox", and on Dan's standard was the figure of an eagle. Thus [the four signs on the four main standards] were similar to the four figures that the prophet Ezekiel saw [in the Divine Charriot]."

The Tent of Meeting was in the exact center, with the camps of the Levites surrounding it in the midst of the camps [of the other tribes], as is mentioned in Sefer Yetzira: "And the Holy Temple is placed exactly in the middle."

I have furthermore seen in the Midrash [the following text]: "And just as the Holy One, blessed be He, created four directions in the universe, so He surrounded His Throne with four "living creatures", and high above them all is the Throne of Glory. The Holy One, blessed be He, told Moses to arrange the standards in a manner corresponding to these directions.

There [in Bamidbar Rabba] the Rabbis also interpret [the division of the tribes of Israel according to four standards as] corresponding to the four groups of angels [surrounding the celestial Throne]. The Midrash also explains there that [the division of the tribes was not arbitrary but] it was all in wisdom, [showing] honor and greatness to Israel, and that therefore Scripture mentions everything in detail.

Adapted from Rabbi Dr. Charles Chavel's annotated translation.

From Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman's commentary on the Torah

Complex Numbers

The pluses and minuses of counting

From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

As a rule, nothing counted or measured attracts blessing. This rule applies, however, only when the numbering or measurement is intrinsically physical, meaning part of this material world. Such numbers do not bode well, since by their very definition, they stress individuality and separateness, each item being counted separately.

A number also suggests limitation. Even if we say, "The number of the children of Israel will be as the sands of the beaches of the sea" (Gen. 22:17), an apparent blessing, the presumption still is that ultimately, this is a limitation, since the number is finite.

In the World to Come, numbering does not entail finitude…

However, in the context of the spiritual world, a number does not imply limitation. On the contrary, once something is numbered it will have an infinite existence, usually on an ascending level; an object that is numbered advances towards ever-greater achievements.

This is why the prophet predicts of the Jewish people, "The number of the people of Israel will be like the sand of the sea that can be neither measured nor counted" (Hosea 2:1). We understand this verse as pointing out the difference between numbering something in this world, and that of numbering something in the World to Come. In the World to Come, numbering does not entail finitude = limitation due to separation. This is true even though the enumeration does take place, as is evident from the words "cannot be counted", which suggest that somebody is indeed attempting to count.

The message, though, is that the count cannot be completed - it cannot be finalized. This is also what the Rabbis may have meant when they said that the Hebrew word "to count", "mispar", refers to a time when Israel performs the will of G‑d, while "cannot be counted", in Hebrew "lo yisofer", refers to a time when Israel fails to do so (Yoma 22). When Israel does not perform the will of G‑d, their cleaving to this physical material world is the reason. When they do perform the will of their Maker, however, even their enumeration does not constitute something finite, something that imposes limitations on their development. Then it is not something negative. On the contrary, the counting is very beneficial.

[Adapted by Eliyahu Munk.]

From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

Numbering Angels and Armies

Kabbalah teaches that angelic armies are summoned to wage Israel's wars.

from Torat Moshe by Rabbi Moshe Alshich of Tzfat-Safed

...Count them according to their armies." (Num. 1:3)

chanoch adds: The Hebrew word being translated as armies is usually translated as hosts. The connotation of hosts, in my opinion, is a battalion of Angels available to be messengers and to follow orders of Hahem. These hosts can be armies. Yet they can be choirs singing praises as well.

If Israel were to become the carrier of G‑d's throne [or "merkava"], what would happen to the angels who had performed this function up until now, and who would be deprived of their former status? This is especially problematic, since Israel assumed this role for the next 40 years, not just for a brief interlude. G‑d certainly did not suddenly despise the angels. Rather the angels assumed a subordinate role, similar to the one they had played during the Exodus, when, by serving as the means of transport for Israel, they had in fact been the armies of the Jewish people. He who can ride angels is in an advantageous position. Israel now resumed the lofty position it had held at the time of the Exodus.

The Shechinah spreads from the children of Israel to the angels….

At this point, however, the angels no longer carried the Israelites on their wings, since the Shechinah could be seen in the Tabernacle. In spite of this, the Shechinah manifested itself primarily within the Children of Israel, who are considered part of G‑d Himself. The Shechinah spreads from the children of Israel to the angels, who correspond to them in numbers.

When the Torah says: "count them according to their hosts", the meaning is: "you will enumerate them on account of the angels who are their armies." Just as kings have armies, so, too, does Israel have armies, i.e. the angels.

There are two kinds of armies. One army serves as an instrument of warfare, the other serves as the base for the Shechinah. The fact that G‑d wanted only those over 20 years old to be counted does not mean that His Presence cannot rest on younger people if they are worthy. Nonetheless, since in earthly kingdoms twenty is the age at which soldiers are recruited, so the heavenly army patterns itself on the same system.

…a corresponding number of angels will serve as their army.

There is one vital difference, however: The Heavenly army (Israel), though mobilized, will not actually fight. On the contrary, the angels who had so far been the transporters of the throne of G‑d will henceforth be the army fighting on behalf of Israel, who had now themselves become the bearers of G‑d's throne. This is the meaning of the words: "You will count them according to their armies"; when you will count the Israelites, a corresponding number of angels will serve as their army. All this was meant to last for the duration of the people's wanderings in the desert. The words "their army" is now understandable, since the angels already had served Israel in that capacity.

Adapted by Eliyahu Munk. from Torat Moshe by Rabbi Moshe Alshich of Tzfat-Safed

"BaMidbar: Flags of Love in the Desert

Throughout their travels in the desert, the Israelites were commanded to set up their tents around tribal flags:

“The Israelites shall encamp with each person near the banner carrying his paternal family’s insignia. They shall encamp at a distance around the Communion Tent” (Num. 2:2)

What is the significance of these banners?

The Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah 2:3 says that the inspiration for the banners came from Mount Sinai. Twenty-two thousand chariots of angels, each one decked out with flags, attended the Revelation of the Torah. The Israelites immediately desired to have flags just like the angels, and God agreed. This request for flags, the Midrash teaches, is described in the Song of Songs (2:4): “He brought me to the wine-house, and His banner over me is love”. From the Midrash we understand that banners relate to some inherent characteristic of angels, though not of people. But we are left with many questions.

Why do angels bear flags? Why does the verse refer to Sinai as a “wine-house”? And what is the connection between banners and love?

The Specialized Service of Angels

According to the Zohar, the banners of the four major encampments (in each direction: north, south, east and west) corresponded to the four sides or “faces” of the supernal Merkavah = Chariot in Ezekiel’s mystical vision.

chanoch adds: Remember “faces” refers to Partzufim, which is a structure of 10 Sefirot

Since these four “faces” represent fundamental divine attributes, each encampment related to a particular divine quality. Before we can explain the meaning of the flags and their connection to angels, we must first understand what is an angel.

The Hebrew word mal'ach literally means “messenger”. An angel is essentially a divine messenger meant to fulfill a specific mission. An angel cannot perform a task, important though it may be, other than the specific mission for which it was designated.

Now we can better understand the function of the angels’ flags. A banner proclaims a distinctive function or trait. Each angel, limited to a very specific area of divine service, carries its own distinguishing flag. These flags may be compared to military uniforms, where the dress and insignia indicate a soldier’s unit and assignment.

Human beings, on the other hand, are not limited to serving God in one particular manner. Our divine image encompasses all spiritual spheres Nefesh HaChaim 1:10. For us, a banner is too restricting; it does not reflect our true spiritual essence.

Nonetheless, the Jewish people saw in the angelic banners of Sinai an inspiring sight that appealed to them, albeit in a non-obligatory way. Every person has special talents and interests, based on individual character traits and his soul’s inner root. We are not limited in serving God in this particular way, but we are certainly more inclined towards those activities for which we have a natural proclivity. For example, a kind-hearted person may concentrate on serving God with acts of compassion and chesed; a strong-willed individual, with acts of courage and self-sacrifice; and so on.

The Jewish people desired flags like those the angels bore at Sinai. They wanted every individual to be able to choose an aspect of divine service that suits his personality, just as each angel executes a specific function, as defined by his flag.

The Wine-House

It is now clear why the verse refers to Mount Sinai as a “wine-house”. Drinking wine releases our inhibitions, revealing our inner character.

In the words of the Talmud Eruvin 65a, “Wine enters, secrets emerge”. The Israelites envied the beauty and joy they witnessed in divine service of the angels. The root of this pleasantness lies in the innate affinity the angels feel towards their service. Each angel naturally identifies with its particular mission.

The Jewish people sought to uncover and emphasize every individual’s personal strengths, in the same way that wine liberates and highlights one’s inner characteristics. This individualized worship, however, only applies to the service of the heart and the character traits.

The banners reflect our feelings of love and joy when serving God — “His banner over me is love” — but the banners are not directly connected to the service itself. Within the framework of Torah study and practical mitzvot, there is no need for distinctive forms of service. Therefore, no banners flew over the central Communion Tent where the luchot = the stone tablets with the Essere Debrot were stored, since the Torah and its mitzvot relate equally to all souls.

Gold from the Land of Israel, pp. 227-229. Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 24-25