Tidbits of Torah

    Memorial Day Weekend and B’Midbar              

Shabbat Parashat B’Midbar

May 27, 2017- 2 Sivan 5777
Dear Friends,headshot white 2015cropped

It is good to be home!  Thank you to all the volunteers and staff who filled in while I was away on Sabbatical!  Much appreciated!

Now, as summer approaches and as we move into Memorial Day weekend, we may sense a shift of focus in our lives.   As the seasons change, so do we….And, as we do, this week we move into the reading of the fourth book of the Five Books of Moses – B’Midbar.

Memorial Day weekend reminds me that B’Midbar is a story of a people struggling to find their center.  As our people leave Egypt and head toward the Promised Land, God gives us structure.  This is how we are to make camp and to travel – with the holy of hollies at our center and with our focus turned toward that center.
It is natural to lose our orientation from time to time, as a people, and as individuals, especially in times of stress!
That is the saga of B’nei Yisrael [the people of Israel] in the wilderness.
By telling this story with all the trials and tribulations described in the Book of B’Midbar, the Torah reminds us that it is natural to be upset, to complain and to argue – but, in the end…we get to the fifth book in the Torah.  In the end, we get to Deuteronomy – to a more focused direction and to consensus. In the end, as a people, we get to the Promised Land.

Change is always unsettling, even when we are moving in a direction that is of our own choosing.  To some extent, as we change or as our lives change, we lose our center.  We search for new balance.

This Memorial Day weekend we remember and we honor those who gave their lives, so that we may live in freedom in our country.  Together, thanks to their service and sacrifice, we are able to move forward, to re-group, to find our center and to continue to build our lives and our country.  May their memory be for a blessing.

If I summarize the message of the Torah in moving us through the stories of B’Midbar and into Deuteronomy it is this:  Having a communal structure, loosing focus, complaining, re-grouping, moving forward, then finding our center, coming to consensus and recalling our direction and purpose….That is the summary of the story of B’Midbar.  That has been our perspective as Jews throughout the generations…And, it is that perspective that reminds us of the deeper meaning of Memorial Day weekend…

As a people, and as a nation, as Jews and as Americans, do we still retain that perspective?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this question!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror