John Lennon once sang: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
This week, we start a new book of the Torah: Bamidbar (Numbers.) This book is all about our ups and down “while walking along the way” in the desert.
Some have noted that this book wasn’t necessary. This book is about what happens in between – between leaving Egypt and entering the Land of Israel, a description of our travels in the desert. On the surface, we are not talking about an important period of time as we should have entered the promised land right then and there.
Shortly after erecting the Tabernacle, Moses should have begun his speech (i.e. the book of Dvarim) as we prepare to enter Israel.
Yet, there are commentators who claim that this is the most important book among the five books of Moses.
Most of our lives happen in between climactic experiences. We live from one experience to the next and our attention is often focused on the “yet to be” and anticipated experience- a vacation, a weekend, a simcha, a Shabbat etc.
While all of those are important (and often essential), we must also ask: How do we feel about the journey itself (not just the anticipation of something down the road?) Do we appreciate its value and significance or do we minimize it and wait impatiently for it to end? Do we properly take advantage of these in between moments (standing in line, stuck in traffic, waiting) or do we just pass the time imagining what awaits us at our desired destination?
[Just as an example- A Shabbat meal might last an hour, but its preparation could have taken half a day. Did we appreciate the “journey” as we made Shabbat possible or did we lose sight of the moment and just focused on the end point?]
The Jews in the desert certainly did not waste a breath. In this book of transition between leaving Egypt and entering Exodus we have some of the most significant narratives- stories of rebellion, mistakes by the entire community, life-changing missteps by Moses and Aaron.
We have people who disagree with each other, husbands and wives who don’t trust each other, competition for power and prestige and rebelling against the rules and confines of a society. In short, we have the journey of life. The narrative and ups and downs that happens in between momentous occasions.
The Kotzker Rebbe made a powerful statement about this, instructing us not to live with a feeling that we are always waiting for something but rather to concentrate on the here and now: “I am never on my way to any place since I am always already there”
[The above was adapted from a Dvar Torah of Sivan Rahav Meir. To sign up to here weekly whatsapp or mailing, click HERE.]
Sephardi Kabbalat Shabbat
This Friday, we will do a Sepharadi kabbalat Shabbat. Included below are links with the tunes which we will be singing. I recommend listening to them 1-2 times to acquaint yourself with the tunes.
Psalms 95-99 (from Lechu Ne’ranena)- Sung in the tune of Sephardim of North Africa/Morocco- listen HERE (until minute 6:22)
Ana B’koach- Listen HERE
Lecha Dodi- listen HERE (from minute 1:26)- sung in the tune of Sephardim of Turkey
Please join for an evening of song, inspiration and stories as we celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem following the six day war. If you have any special stories from the holy city, please let me know if you’re be willing to share it with everyone.
Jerusalem Day Resource- Hamizrachi Jerusalem Day And Shavuot Edition- download it HERE
KOT Virtual Shavuot Program on Sunday, May 24 from 6-10 pm
There is one more slots for our virtual Shavuot program. Please feel free to sign up HERE.
Shavuot Program Keynote Talk: How A Missionary Brought Me Back to Jewish Observance with Rob Walker- 9 pm
Robert Walker grew up as an unaffiliated Jew in the suburbs of Toronto until a chance online interaction with a Christian missionary changed his life forever. He is a consultant for Jewish non-profit organizations in the areas of fundraising, management and education, and is a lecturer and educator. He lives in Toronto.
Shavuot Resources and Learning Opportunities
Sunday, May 24th from 10 am-2:30 pm dozens of classes from some of the world’s most sought after Jewish speaker from around the globe. The schedule and list of speakers is attached.
Wed, May 27 at 8:00 am- Thursday, May 28 at 8:00 am- A Day (24 hours) of Torah Learning in honor of Rabbi Shlomo Riskins 80th birthday- Click HERE for details.
1. Thursday at 4:30 pm- The Tales of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov will begin on Thursday June 4
2. Thursday at 8 pm- Special Jerusalem Day Program
3. Friday at 9:30 am- Hallel for Jerusalem Day
4. Friday at 5:45 pm- A Special Sephardi Kabbalat Shabbat
4. Saturday Night- Havdallah 10 minutes after Shabbat
5. Sunday at 10 am- Contemporary Issues in Jewish Thought
6. Sunday from 6-10 pm- Virtual Shavuot Program
6. Tuesday at 1 pm- Parsha Class