23 Jun Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for B’ha’a lot’cha 5776
This Shabbat we read from Parashat B’ha’alot’cha in which the Israelites finally begin their march toward the Promised Land (keeping in mind that the punishment of spending forty years in the desert has not yet been decreed). But before they do so, they celebrate the holiday of Passover – that’s correct, it has been a year since they left Egypt and it is now the one-year anniversary of the experience. What is particularly poignant is that everyone wants to participate – even the Israelites who find themselves impure at this time ask Moshe how they can participate in the Passover ritual and eventually find out that they can offer the special sacrifice a month later when they are once again ritually pure. But the point is that the experience of leaving Egypt is still in them, still inspiring their actions and fulfillment of God’s commandments. We all have times in life when extraordinary events inspire a change in our thinking and in our actions. What is left for us to determine is how long will we allow those events to inspire us, hopefully for the better. As we continue to face the aftermath of the shooting at Pulse nightclub here in Orlando, that is a question we must face – will we allow this horrific act to change the way we live our lives forever more, seeking change for good in our society and pursuing it until it becomes reality? Or will it be a passing feeling that we’ll acknowledge until it goes away and then simply move on with our lives? I hope it’s the first. I hope it changes our lives and our way of thinking forever so that our society can change as well.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik