Re-Ordering Priorities This week we conclude the Book of Numbers. It seems apt. My family and I have been counting down the days of quarantine since our arrival. In Hebrew quarantine is Bidud from Boded meaning alone. But during these quarantine days we did not feel alone because of the kindness and good deeds of the members of this community. Angels (malachim) have appeared at our doorstep each day bringing us food, and even toys for our children. Thank you for sustaining us with your love and caring.
This community too has been counting down the days till we could come back home to our Temple. Psalm 126 is our people’s classic song of return “Shir Hamaalot B’shuv Adonai” meaning “God when you returned us from exile we felt like we were in a dream, our mouths were filled with laughter and songs were on our tongues. “This Shabbat we are singing. We are back home having services at our Temple. We have dreamed and waited for this day. And even if we are not all here yet physically, at least spiritually we are connected. Through Operation Shabbat Shalom dedicated members have brought Challah and candles to every family and every individual in this congregation. Like Challah woven from separate strands into a whole, we are connected by a love of Shabbat (sacred time) and love or community (sacred relationships). A huge thank you to all the volunteers who through their deeds of loving kindness, gemilut hasadim, made this possible – for us be a kehila kedosha – a holy community.
Quarantine and Covid 19 has given us all time to pause and to reassess our priorities. What really counts in life? So much is fragile, so much us is uncertain, unclear. What can we really count on?
The pandemic has shaken up our lives and our routines. We have a chance to reassess what really matters most in our lives. At the conclusion of the Book of Numbers, Moses tells us to put first a priority on family, children, community, sacred relationships. I am proud that our community is striving to this with Operation Shabbat Shalom and many other new initiatives.
Martin Buber taught God can be found in the sincere meeting of human beings. When people come together for the sacred purpose of affirming life, then the presence of the Divine can dwell among us. That is my hope and prayer. May we conclude the Book of Numbers with a sense of what really counts in life. It’s not about counting our possessions; it’s about counting our blessings. It’s about knowing we can count on each other as a sacred community – a Kehila Kedosha. It’s about each of us saying you can count on me. I care about our future, count me in. Our custom when we finish a Book of Torah is to say Hazak, Hazak, v’Nithazek – “May we strengthen each other.”