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The City Not By The Water


“I have left to last the dynamic component of the city, without which it could not have continued to increase in size and scope and productivity: this is the first efficient means of mass transport, the waterway. That the first growth of cities should have taken place in river valleys is no accident; and the rise of the city is contemporaneous with improvements in navigation, from the floating bundle of rushes or logs to the boat powered by oars and sails.” (Lewis Mumford – The City in History 1961)

We ended Where Everything Is Moral by asking, “Why not the sea?” It certainly seems illogical to build the first Jewish city in middle of the desert and far away from the most natural place; near a body of water. Yes, they had water, plenty of it, streaming through the camp from Miriam’s Well, but not the type of water described above as so essential to building a city.

It seems that God wanted us to build our “City” with an awareness of our total dependence on Him. He wanted us to learn that no matter where we will build, we must constantly remember that our success comes from Him.

An interesting lesson, but even more so for a community that began with individuals, not the place. Each individual was assigned a role in life before God instructed Moses about the camp, the flags and the placement of each tribe. This community was not built as others. It was not founded near a natural body of water. It was not even the place or community that mattered as much as the importance of each individual. Had we built that city as a typical city would be placed, the city would have been more important than its inhabitants, its people.

This city began with individuals, who only after they developed a sense of self could join together and build a community that is dependent on God. If the place came first, we would have searched for our security in the place, not in God. We first had to develop our personal relationship with God before we could start work on the city.

A community, a city, provides a sense of belonging and security, but that very sense of security can distract us from our personal relationship with God and the awareness of our total dependence on Him.

Where do we begin? Do we begin with the individual or with the city? Do we nurture a strong sense of self or a need to “fit in” the community?

The Book of Bamidbar – the Book of the Desert – reminds us that in order to build a nation centered on God, aware of our dependence on Him, we must begin with the individual, not the community.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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