The portion for this Shabbat is the beginning of the 4. book of the Torah: Bemidbar (Numbers 1.1-4.20)
As we begin a new book of Torah this week, it is quite striking how we pick up the story from where we left off at the end of the book of Shemot. There we read the instruction: ‘on the first day of the first month shall you set up the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting’ (Exodus 40:2). Here at the beginning of Bemidbar it says: ‘And the Eternal spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they came out from the land of Egypt’ (Numbers 1:1). The first instruction from God, following this introduction, is ‘take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel’ (Numbers 1:2).
While we had been witnesses to this exceptional revelation to the Israelites in the chapters of the last weeks, we are now fetched back into the reality – into the reality of life. In the coming weeks we will learn, how the Israelites learned to cope with the new laws, and where they failed. It is for us, to understand their struggles as an example. We will do things in our generation different as they did, and there will be a good chance for us, not to repeat their mistakes, but we will face challenges and new traps, and we will rebel. What will help us, as it did for them: The knowledge not to be alone. We are one people and God is with us, joining us on our path.
Enjoy your Shabbat