21 May Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat B’midbar 5775
This Shabbat we begin the book of B’midbar, the book of Numbers, by reading from Parashat B’midbar, which spends most of its time focused on counting the Israelite people. They are about to finally move away from Mount Sinai and before doing so wanted to know exactly how many people will heading out. As any camp counselor would know, you want to arrive at your destination with the same number of people you started with, so counting at the beginning and at the end is only logical. Of course this year we read from this Torah portion as an opening act to what is a three-day yuntif, a three-day long Jewish holiday where Shabbat leads directly into the two days of Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks. While we of course don’t count how many people are in shul at the beginning of a three-day yuntif and compare it with the end, as Moshe probably did at the end of a day of travel, I would take this opportunity to encourage all of us to take this chance to share in the holiday weekend by celebrating the Jewish holiday that is upon us. Marking the occasion of the receiving of the Ten Commandments and the Israelite’s experiencing God at the foot of Mount Sinai is a powerful idea and one that I hope you’ll all share with us this weekend.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik