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How Do You Reach the Promised Land?

06/05/2019 10:48:59 AM


Beth Schafer

This week we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah. It goes by two names: in English we know it as the book of Numbers; the title attributed to the census that is taken at the beginning of the portion. In Hebrew, the book is called Bemidbar, meaning in the desert, where the census took place. Moses and Aaron were to count all the men of the 12 tribes 20 years and up to see who could take up arms when the Israelites would have to fight their way into the Promised Land. 

So much of the Torah takes place in the desert – a stark, baron place which because of its vast emptiness, causes us to look inward, both as people and as a nation. In the Book of Bemidbar, the Israelites must literally count their strengths and prepare for the battles that lie ahead. So it is with our lives. We set our sights on a “promised land,” whether that be stronger relationships, financial security, completing educational goals, etc. To reach it we must confront ourselves and take stock of the abilities that will lead to our successes.

When we find ourselves unrooted in our own personal deserts, maybe it is time to take a personal census. What strengths do I have that I can rely on to reach my promised land? What hardships do I need to confront before “going into battle” to fight for the outcome I want? The desert isn’t a place without purpose, it is a mirror reflecting back to us a question, “Can I count on myself?”

Shabbat shalom,


Mon, July 13 2020 21 Tammuz 5780