• Rabbi Rubanowitz

Shavuos - Bamidbar-Shavuos, “Love on Desert Island”

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Our Parasha starts off with Hashem’s command to Moshe to conduct a census-and literally count our “heads” to determine our number. Yet  the word used to describe the command “to count”  is “S’EU”, which actually doesn’t at its source mean to count, but literally to “raise up”. Interestingly, it is also a term found in The Bible and throughout the Talmud for marriage, described a “niSUin”.

But what do “raising up” and marriage have to do with counting?

I heard a wonderful story from my good friend Rabbi Yitzchok Wyne of the world-famous Young Israel “Aish” of Las Vegas which goes like this: Once a town had exactly 10 families and because of that they ALWAYS had a Minyan for prayers.  One day, an 11th family moved in to town- and the very next day, there was no Minyan! How can that be? Well, when there were exactly 10 people, each Minyan member  KNEW he counted. Without him, no Minyan! But once there was an “11th”, each one thought, well I don’t really count that much, “who am I?  just another number…. they have a Minyan without me! “ .

By now you’ve probably anticipated my Chiddush:  So often we go through life not feeling that we really, truly individually COUNT. The Torah says “S’EU ES ROSH BNAI Yisrael”. S’EU means to count but is rooted in the word “lift”, “raise up”, and yes, also to marry.  The Torah says, “my Jewish people, you must never forget how much each and every one of you matter and are necessary for the completeness of this world. Just as in a successful marriage, each party feels necessary to the completeness of the other, each one of you have something special and unique that raises you above the next in your own way. So Moshe, as leader it is your job to “raise up” the heads of my people so that each person feels, sees and recognizes her/his own worth, and “marry” them to their families, their people, to me your G-d,  in a way where each of us completes the other (Yisrael, the Torah and Hashem are One-Zohar, Acharei Mos). Do this now, in the Midbar and desert, where you are alone to bond and connect with each other and with me (the Shechina) as a young couple on their honeymoon island, and your union as a people bound together and with Hashem will last for eternity”.

As we prepare for the holiday of Shavuos, viewed by our Rabbis as the “Wedding day” between Hashem, the Jews and the Torah, let’s never forget the individual and unique power of each and every one of us and the limitless strength we harness once we see the greatness in each other!

Shabbat Shalom Umevorach!

Shalom Rubanowitz

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