Friday, June 7, 2024 / 1 Sivan 5784

Shalom Chaverim!

Which seems more intriguing to you, more poetic and inviting: the idea of “Numbers” or “In the Wilderness”? Which is more likely to be in your weekend plans – playing Sudoku or going for a hike, watching a sunset, enjoying your garden’s beauty?

For those of us who struggled with math in school, it might cross our minds that ‘numbers’ and [being lost] ‘in the wilderness’ are – more or less – synonyms! On the other hand, mathematicians – who see equations as beauty and understand the theories of how the entire universe appears to be founded on mathematical principles – might say that ‘numbers’ and ‘in the wilderness’ share an aesthetic, a thrilling limitlessness, and even a sense of spirituality.

This week we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah’s five books, “BaMidbar”, which means ‘in the wilderness,’ or ‘in the desert.’ The English title is “Numbers”, in reference to the numbers of the census detailed at the start of the book.

‘In the wilderness’ describes events and teachings of the 40 years our ancestors wandered in the desert on their way from slavery to the Promised Land. Our time in the desert is considered in some ways a spiritual ideal and a time of unity and closeness with God. On the other hand, the stories we read about in this book do not gloss over the tensions, difficulties, restless wandering, and dangers of that time.

“BaMidbar” – in the wilderness – is a profound metaphor for so much in life as we grow, wonder and wander, find our path, and learn from experience.

Jewish tradition takes special note of having received the Torah “in the wilderness” at Sinai, during our days as wanderers in the desert. We will try to grasp the spiritual significance of being both at home and on a journey through life with our Shavuot holiday progressive dinner and “Tikkun” study on Tuesday night: Join us for dairy appetizers, main course, and dessert (cheese cake!) at Temple Sinai, during which we will explore the idea of “house” and “home” through the lenses of Jewish texts, current events, movement, and sharing our own experiences of creating a sense of “home”…

Just as the Israelites wandered “BaMidbar” – in the desert – and became a people there, laying the foundations of their utopian society, building community and developing the leadership they needed to get to the Promised Land, so our own Temple Sinai community will strengthen, develop, and lead ourselves forward as a community by starting our new fiscal and program year with our Annual General Meeting and Installation on Friday June 28. ALL are invited. Please join us!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach – Happy Shavuot!

Rabbi Michael Schwartz