By Rabbi Mark Melamut
Parshat B’midbar (Numbers 1:1 – 4:20) and the Approach of Shavuot
Each time I leave home for the day, I’m checking and re-checking, “Do I have everything? Keys, check, wallet, check, phone, check, travel coffee mug, water bottle…” It’s as if I’m going on a long journey. As mindful as I can try to be, inevitably something gets left behind here and there. The process of packing and organizing is a natural one before heading out on the road. If this is day by day, not even the planned packing of a tight suitcase for a week’s trip, I can just imagine 40 years of wandering and wondering b’midbar, in the wilderness. Packing, repacking, and packing again. It seems only natural to ask, “Did we forget anything or anybody? Are we all here?” After all, as we begin the Book of Numbers, we learn that this is a fairly large group, 603,550 men who are twenty or over, and an approximate total population of 2 million.
For the Israelites, being in the wilderness is a time of counting, sorting, and figuring themselves out. Check out how this creative and thoughtful video brings these themes to life and makes them relevant for us today. http://www.g-dcast.com
After preparing to receive the torah for the last now 46 days since Passover, Shavuot finally begins this coming Tuesday evening. Together, we will gather in collaboration to experience, engage, and enliven ourselves with the wisdom, teaching and insight of the spiritual discipline of study and learning. We begin to enter and explore the depths of torah and of ourselves. On the holiday that has us receive the torah outside, gathered around an ancient mountain in the wilderness, we go inside, into the sacred places we need to go in order to grow. We go inside, within our hearts. And then, we are to emerge back out into the world with new understandings.
Here is a favorite poem of mine that I ponder each year at this time by the Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai:
“Poem Without An End”
Inside the brand-new museum
there’s an old synagogue.
Inside the synagogue
Inside my heart
Inside the museum
inside my heart
- This Shabbat and Shavuot, what do we want to acknowledge, work on, or celebrate from within the depths of our hearts?
- What enduring understanding, insight, or guidance can we shine on our lives from this heart-work?
Rabbi Mark Melamut