This week we begin the Book of Bemidbar (Numbers). “Bemidbar” means “in the wilderness,” a
reference to the Sinai desert, the place we received the Torah. The Talmud posits that the
wilderness context was not accidental. A person must make one's self untamed and
unaccounted for, as in a desert, in order to find Torah (Ned. 55a).
The wilderness is a place lacking structure but by that token unfettered by artificial limits. Amidst
synagogue closure, we are thrust similarly into a situation where we can neither serve nor be
served by the structured, predictable Jewish practice to which we’ve become long accustomed.
As in a wilderness, we have been granted a singular opportunity to reimagine and reinvent. We
may build anew. Perhaps prayer will become a walk in a park. Perhaps engagement will take
place during an online Torah class. Perhaps growth will be sparked by reading a Jewish book or
watching an Israeli TV show. In a wilderness one is either lost or having an adventure. The
choice is ours.
B’Yedidut (in friendship)