Parshat Behar-Bechukotai: Heightened Sense

hero image

On Mount Sinai…

Many metaphors hitchhike along the road that is Life on the hoarse-driven carriage that is the oft-used vocal cords of Language.

Heaven and Earth, besides for being what they are, represent our lofty aspirations and pragmatic implementations; High and Low, besides for being notches on the vertical yardstick, depict ones feelings and standing; Mountain and Valley, besides for being indispensible brushstrokes on the universe’s landscape, paint the ups and downs of the journey we are on.

The metaphor that is the Mountain:

It rises higher than the plains that surround it. It isn’t – plain that is. It is majestic, beautiful: reaching high, for the heavens, yet rooted low, in the depths of the earth. And therein lies its beauty: it isn’t impressed by the heights it reaches, by the beauty it reflects; it knows that heights can be as selfish as lows, and the higher one climbs the more humility one must have.

I begin to climb: over passé and through impasse. Up I go, away from the boredom that is below. And I begin to forget what it was like back down there, on the bottom, where pain and suffering are still rampant and the majority of the earth’s surface is still as flat as an electrocardiograph gone to steady beep. So flat they don’t even know there is a Mountain, never mind climbing it.

But I, in my journey up, have forgotten what it is to be down. And, my heightened sense of self has dulled my sense of (and for) others.

As I climb upward I realize I am alone. No one holds my hand; I carry no one on my back. Do you know how lonely it is to travel on your own? Well, I didn’t until I did.

I look down, from whence I came, and suddenly remember the sign at the foot of the Mountain. If you walk in My statutes, it begins, and I knew I had erred – not so much in my wish to reach high, to peaks unexplored by man, but in the fact that it was my wish, my selfish want. I realize then, in order for one to truly reach the heights and depths of one’s journey, one must do it not on one’s own terms but on the terms of He that put us on this journey in the first place.

On the Mountain I had felt great – until I realized I was alone. Now I know: if I am to live with aspirations for a soul to shine forth, with hopes of reaching heaven, I must not just climb the Mountain, immerse myself in the waters of purity, but I must climb the Mountain in order to follow His statutes, to do (also) the little things so that all the world be covered with the pure waters of His knowledge. If I am to climb the Mountain – and I am – then it must be to ensure that all the flatlands and even the lows and valleys reach and know the Mountain as well.

The higher one climbs, the heightened one’s sense for other’s, for the Unity that we are, becomes. If I climb upward and only the sense of my own self is heightened, then I am climbing to a low place.

May we all walk in His statutes so that we may all reach up to the greatest of peaks. Together, as one.

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

Make every day count! Sign up for the OU Daily Sefirah Reminder Email.