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Parashat Bamidbar - 5777

Dear friends,

This Shabbat, we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah called Bamidbar (in the Wilderness). It is called 'Bamidbar' in Hebrew and 'Numbers' in English.

It has been one full year since the Children of Israel left Egypt. In that one year they received the Torah at Mount Sinai, they strayed away by worshipping the Golden Calf, and they completed the building of the Tabernacle which now resided in their midst, and are ready to head to the Promised Land.

This Parasha begins with the instruction to Moses to "take a census of the whole Israelite community . . . of all those who are twenty years and up, all those in Israel who are able to bear arms." (Numbers 1:2-3) The Hebrew phrase for ‘take a census ‘ is 'Se-ou et Rosh', which translated literally means 'raise the head'.

I believe there is a very important message for us. To be called upon and to be counted is a privilege that raises one's head. Each individual becomes an important contributor to the cause, no matter how many others are involved. In our own day-to-day life, we are called upon to perform acts of kindness for various projects.  We are called upon to join and be counted. The needs are so great that our contribution may seem to be too small as to the impact it may have. The words 'Se-ou et Rosh', 'raise the head', urges us to participate, because each and everyone of us counts.

This coming week, we will be observing the Festival of Shavuot, recalling the Day of Revelation at Mount Sinai when the Torah was given. What does this day mean to you?

Rabbi Yosi in the Talmud declared: "If not for today, I would just be like all the other Yosis in the market." Rabbi Yosi celebrated Shavuot by crediting and thanking G-d for the Torah which made him who he was - Rabbi Yosi.  On Shavuot, he celebrated and showed tremendous joy and excitement.

Everyone of us has been, to some extent, a student of Torah. We obey and perform Mitzvot from the Torah. We can say the same words: Who would we be today - as a people and as individuals - without this great day of the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai?

Therefore, celebrate and cherish this wonderful day of Shavuot. Come to shul and listen to the Ten Commandments.

Hag Sameah - Happy Holiday!