Count – BlogElul
Well, as someone who counts people as she passes them on the street, teaches math for a living, and counts the Omer right here on this blog, I would say I’m a champion counter. I can count. But do I count? Because sometimes, it’s hard to remember if I do or don’t. Often, it feels like most of the things I do could be done by someone else. My kids have other parents. There are other great math teachers, some better than me. There are certainly better writers – all I have is random ideas to blog on. I am not indispensable. How can I know I count?
We all find belonging, being significant, and counting in different ways. Sometimes for me, it’s the appreciation of a person I’m working with – sure, there are other parents and teachers, but today, right here and now, I’m doing this job so I matter to someone else. Sometimes, it’s just being part of a group. Sometimes it’s the words of a prayer that has “we” instead of “I”. Of course, on Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur, I’m counted in the UNetaneh Tokef
“…As a shepherd herds a flock, causing the sheep to pass beneath a staff, so do You cause to pass, count and record, visiting the souls of all the living, decreeing the length of their days, inscribing their judgement: on Rosh HaShanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed who shall live and who shall die…”
Selecting a few words, “ken taavir, vetispor, vetimne, ve tipkod nefesh kol hay (high)”
Ken – yes! So…, like that. We are indeed counted, we do count – no more and no less than others, for they too are counted, and we are all counted like angels – and also like sheep.
Taavir – cause to pass, bring over, or bring before – we are being acted upon. What we do matters – but this is not why we matter. We matter because of what God does with us, not what we do.
VeTispor – to be counted; to be described; to be told – we are a story being told. Sometimes we can feel that life is a big multi-role-player game and that Earth is the virtual reality being played in. In this MMR, however, it is clear that we count.
VeTimne – to be counted; to be numbered; to belong – we are included, one of the players in this game. Really, what it says should warm the heart of any math teacher. On Rosh Hashanah, God does math! We form some of the key numbers God plays with – but with God, a number doesn’t erase personality and individuality the way it does with big governments and corporations – it highlights it and makes it more of a thing. Because God counts us, we belong; to God, to a community, to this world.
Tipkod – to function; to act upon; to count people; to visit; to remember; to order; to direct; to command – I flipping LOVE this language. Seriously. This is what you find in a simple dictionary. God acts upon us, visits us, remembers us, directs us, commands us, and most of all, counts us. We are noticed. Each of us. Individually.
Nefesh kol hay – All that is; the souls of living things; the souls of all animals; all living things; this expression encompasses the fundamental basis of a human being as a soul encased in an animal body and as one of a whole, of a myriad of creatures.
I count because I am counted. One among many, I am indispensable to God. God counts me in many different ways. And since I count, I might as well act in ways that matter.