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Ki Sisa: Raising the Crown of Yisroel

     כי תשא את ראש בני ישראל לפקודיהם

“You shall raise the heads of the Jewish people according to their numbers.” (Shemos 30:12)

Hashem is instructing Moshe to count the Jewish people. Why does the verse use the phrase “you shall raise,” instead of saying “you shall count” or “you shall calculate”?

The Gemara (Bava Basra 10b) relates that Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem, “How can I raise the crown of Israel?” To which Hashem replied, “With [the Torah portion of] Ki Sisa.” What exactly was Moshe asking Hashem, and what was Hashem’s answer?

The great tzaddik, Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk, writes that a person who strives for righteousness will always find faults within himself. The more he will try to become better, the more he will find his deeds to be lacking and the more discouraged he may become. This is what Moshe asked of Hashem: “How can I raise the crown of Israel?” If people will keep focusing on their own faults, they will be unable to serve You with joy. So how can we lift the people’s spirits and raise their crown?

In the famous prayer of Rebbe Elimelech, we say: “…so that each of us shall see the virtues of our friends and not their faults.” Although righteous people may focus on their own faults, they must always see other people’s good qualities. We must all see other people’s virtues and respect them fully, thereby raising their spirits.

This is why the Torah uses the word “Ki sisa – to raise.” We are obligated to raise each other’s spirits by strengthening each other with words of encouragement and support. We must focus on each other’s qualities, strengths and virtues, and thereby raise the crown of Israel together. This is Hashem’s response to Moshe’s question. Although righteous people may focus on their own faults, if they will raise each other’s spirits with love and respect, they will ultimately raise the crown of Israel together, and the entire Jewish people will be able to serve Hashem with joy and happiness.

With the help of Hashem, we shall all be able to strengthen each other. Every person goes through difficulties and hardships and is in need of friendship and support, as the verse says (Yeshaya 41:6): “Each person will help his friend and say to his brother ‘Be strong!’” In the merit of strengthening each other and raising each other’s spirits, may everyone be helped with all of their needs; we shall merit refuos and yeshuos and Hashem Himself should raise the crown of Israel. The month of Adar is the month when simcha is increased; may we indeed merit the ultimate simcha, the final geulah, Amen.

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