JUNE BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of June. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, say a special prayer for you, and recite the following blessing (cf Num. 6:24-26):
- May the Eternal One bless you and protect you!
- May the Eternal One deal kindly and graciously with you!
- May the Eternal One bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
KËIN YEHI RATZON (Let it be so!)
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/bmidbar
B’midbar (בְּמִדבַּר — Hebrew for “In the Wilderness”) – Numbers 1:1−4:20
On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, the Eternal One spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying: “Take a census of the whole Israelite company…” – Numbers 1:1-2
- God commands Moses to take a census of all the Israelite males over the age of twenty. (1:1-46)
- The duties of the Levites, who are not included in the census, are detailed. (1:47-51)
- Each tribe is assigned specific places in the camp around the Tabernacle. (1:52-2:34)
- The sons of Levi are counted and their responsibilities are set forth. (3:1-3:39)
- A census of the firstborn males is taken and a special redemption tax is levied on them. (3:40-51)
- God instructs Moses and Aaron regarding the responsibilities of Aaron and his sons, and the duties assigned to the Kohathites. (4:1-20)
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/bmidbar
By: Beth Ellen Young
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.1.1-4.20
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
במדבר B’midbar – Numbers 1:1-4:20
The Architecture of a Count and the Architecture of Account by Rachel Havrelock, pp.789-90
THE SACRED SPACE described in Parashat B’midbar bridges the end of Exodus and the beginning of Numbers. Exodus concludes with a magisterial description of the Tabernacle and the priests–both resplendent in the colorful handiwork of Israelite women. Once God’s presence fills the tabernacle and not even Moses can enter, a distinction between Divine and human becomes clear. Leviticus follows, with laws concerning how to negotiate this boundary between Divine and human. Numbers then returns to the topic with which Exodus ends. In Numbers the perspective is widened to include the formation in which Israel camps with the Tabernacle at its center. The Tabernacle complex, with its collapsible boundaries and open spaces, creates a sense of order in the unfamiliar chaos of the wilderness. The Tabernacle also helps orient the Israelites in the vast expanse of that wilderness, since they stay or go based on the ascent and descent of the cloud of God’s Presence. In this sense, God lives amidst the Israelites throughout their journey to the Promised Land.
“Numbers,” the English name of the book, alludes to the social organization of the Israelites and the two censuses that frame the book (Numbers 1 and 26); the Hebrew title B’midbar (from the first distinctive word, meaning “in the wilderness [of]”), highlights the transitory setting of the narrative. The contrast between these two titles reflects a tension between order and chaos, culture and nature, obedience and rebellion that characterizes the book and drives its plot. This type of tension also suffuses the concept of holiness that operates in this book, in which one recognizes both the creative and destructive power of God. While contact with God makes Israel holy, encountering God without preparation is potentially lethal.
Although the scrupulous detail of this parashah and other parts of the book may not immediately grip the reader, the underlying idea is that the ordering of the community–and by extension, one’s life–creates the space for encounters with the Divine. The power of this book emerges from the image of the encampment’s concentric rectangles radiating inward to a cord of supreme holiness. In this geometry of moving from the periphery to the center, the tribes encamp around the Levites, who encircle the high priestly family, who surround the Tabernacle’s curtained walls that enclose the court that buffers the Holy of Holies. This symmetry–constructed on the ground as well as in prose–is a collective act of ordering chaos that emulates the creation of the world in Genesis 1:1–2:4.
Parashat B’midbar illustrates how hierarchies in a given society are “spatialized,” meaning that its power structures are evident in the physical spaces of the society, such as city plans or religious architecture. In Numbers, for example, the arrangement of the camp favors the sons of Aaron as kohanim (priests), whereas the marching order gives prominence to the sons of Judah. Military language and concepts infuse the description of the camp’s arrangement. It is not surprising, therefore, that women do not appear in this parashah; counting conceals the female presence in the community. (For a somewhat different perspective on women’s apparent absence, see Another View, …[below]).
Another View – by Beatrice Lawrence, p. 808
AS THE ISRAELITES PREPARE to resume their journey, Moses leads the community in organizational activities: census-taking and the placement of tribal units in preparation for the march. The principles of organization are value-laden; they count only able-bodied men of fighting age in the initial census, and they divide the Levites into units with unequal privileges concerning the holy sanctuary. Though all of the members of the community are traveling to the same place, they do so in a structured fashion in which the boundaries of tribal units are carefully maintained, and in which some groups have more responsibility–and more access to the divine sphere–than others. The overarching tone of the parashah is subsequently patriarchal and hierarchical.
Patriarchy as a cultural system is based on power differentials; able-bodied men are defined as the powerful and active members of the community. (See, for example, bell hooks, Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, 1984.) This is evident in the notable absence of women and other marginal figures from this parashah. What is the place allotted in the Israelite encampment for women, children, or the infirm? Even when the men of Levi are assigned to be Tabernacle functionaries, God states that they are taken for this role as redemption for the Israelite first-born males (3:12). Again, it is men who are the focus of the narrative, and all important tasks in this parashah are done by men.
It is possible, however, to glean from this text a lesson about a handful of important women: Jacob’s wives and the wives’ handmaids. The structure of the Israelite encampment is not random; rather, it groups together certain tribes while separating others. Leah’s descendants–Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun–have pride of place within the Israelite encampment, on the east side closest to the entrance to the Tabernacle. Her other descendants–Reuben, Simeon, and Gad–are located on the south side of the Tabernacle. Their placement can be explained by Genesis 49: all three of these tribal ancestors committed acts that drew harsh criticism from Jacob, and subsequently they are held in lower esteem than their full brothers. The children of the handmaids Bilhah and Zilpah are represented on the northern side of the encampment, and Rachel’s offspring are located on the western side, farthest from the Tabernacle entrance. Hence the descendants of Jacob’s most beloved wife are in a position of less honor than the children of the long-suffering Leah. Even while ignoring the roles of women in defining the community, this parashah still makes a strong statement about the matriarchs of Israel. (See further Mary Douglas, In the Wilderness, 1993, pp. 172-95.)
COUNTING OF THE ‘ÓMER
We are at the end of the 49-day period of Counting the ‘Ómer, which this year began Saturday evening, April 16 and continues until Shavuot, which starts the evening of Saturday, June 4, (see the June 1, 2022 reminder email for information on Shavuot.) The ‘Ómer is counted each evening.
Today, Friday, day 49 begins this evening at sundown. Before the ‘Alëinu, after stating that one is ready to count the ‘Ómer, the following blessing is said:
Baruch atah Adonai Elohëinu Mélech ha’olam, asher kid’shánu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivánu ‘al S’firat Ha‘Ómer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the ‘Ómer.
After the blessing, one recites the appropriate day of the count. If after the first six days, one also includes the number of weeks that one has counted. For example:
“Hayom tish’ah v’arba’im yom, shehëm shiv’ah shavu’ot la‘Ómer/ba‘Ómer.”
“Today is 49 days, which is seven weeks of/in the ‘Ómer.”
Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem; May those who love you be at peace. May there be well-being within your ramparts, peace in your citadels. (Psalms 122:6-7) Amen.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 5 Sivan through 11 Sivan, we lovingly remember:
Friend of the Caron Family, TKH Members
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, June 3, 2022.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – B’midbar (triennial part) Num. 3:14-4:20
Time: Jun 3, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jun 3, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
PS – Upcoming important dates:
Shavuot – Sa-M June 4-6, 2022
Chag Shavuot Sameach – Dulce i Alegre Shabuot!