Torah Portion: B’midbar (In the desert) Numbers 1-4:20
HafTorah: Hosea 1:10-2:20
This Sabbath we read the first portion of the fourth book of Torah-B’midbar. Also tonight when Sabbath ends the Appointed Time of Shavuot begins. This holiday is the second of three times on G-d’s calendar when Jews were to go to Jerusalem to celebrate one of G-d’s appointed times. In traditional Judaism this holiday commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Therefore we can grasp somewhat what is happening in Acts 2 when the Jews from all over the world were gathered in Jerusalem. As the early believers were gathered together and praying a great wind and fire appeared and touched each of them. What should interest us is basically the same scene played out thousands of years earlier at Sinai. There, G-d imparted His word. Here G-d gave His word and everyone understood it. So as we celebrate this holiday of Shavuot we are able to thank the Father for His steadfastness and that He has included us in this, His story of faithfulness.
When we read B’midbar we also can grasp G-d’s plan then and now. This Torah section is always read before Shavuot. One reason may be the wording used in G-d’s command to take a census. In Numbers (B’midbar) 1:2 the wording is to “lift the head.” This was not to be a form filled out but instead each person was to have his head lifted or personally counted. Each person was important.
I would like us to take a moment and look at the idea of wilderness. Really all of Torah takes place in only three places spiritually: 1. Mitzrim/Egypt – that constricting place where we are limited, cannot breathe. 2. The wilderness – that in between place where we have the opportunity to put off what we were and become new people, empty ourselves of the past and be filled with G-d’s truth. 3. The Promised Land – the land flowing with milk and honey, a land that flows unrestrained. Remember the root of Midbar is “word”, that place where we can hear the Father, where we encounter our true selves. This place on our spiritual journey shows us that to become a new creation we must put away slavery and open ourselves up to G-d’s new role for our life. We are no longer constricted (Egypt) but here in Midbar (desert) we have that opportunity to put away the old and become new. But for this to happen we must let go of what was and become renewed in mind and spirit. It can be scary, letting go of old ways and growing in our new role as children of G-d. Going through Midbar is the only way to get to our destination – the Promised Land, Heaven, being with the Father.