Community Rabbi Corner, June 7, 2019

Rabbi Randall Mark
Shomrei Torah
Wayne, NJ
Parashat Bamidbar

This is a very exciting weekend Jewishly and sadly much of the Jewish world will miss it entirely. First, we are reading in a new book of the Torah this week, with Shabbat Bamidbar. We begin the Book of Numbers, and the focus shifts from the grandeur of Shemot/Exodus and the laws of Vayikra/Leviticus to the routines of living daily life while still connected to God. We will be counted and we will be found wanting and we will strive to do better – a pattern that we have been following for millennia now.

And then as Shabbat ends, Shavuot, the forgotten festival, begins. We spend all this time talking about the importance of Torah, much of the focus for our students is on learning Torah; and yet on the holiday that celebrates receiving the Torah, many will be absent. It is traditional to study throughout the night at a Tikkun Leil Shavuot – you can find them that at synagogues and JCCs and sometimes even in homes. Some will learn for a few hours, others throughout the night. Either way, the goal is not to miss it opportunity to celebrate the Torah and Torah learning!
On Shavuot when we read from the Torah, we read of the Revelation at Sinai – the giving of the Aseret HaDibrot, the Ten Commandments. It is very unclear what was given – just the tablets with the Ten Commandments? All of the Torah? All of written and oral Torah? As I tell my students, it doesn’t really matter. What is important is that for thousands of years, we have made the Torah the living, beating heart of Judaism! There is no Judaism without Torah. Take some time this weekend to celebrate our sacred text!