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May 25, 1984 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-05-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

t- rtclay; fliay-2b, 1964

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• ••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••• •

Like most Torah portions,
Bemidbar takes its name
from a word or two found
near the beginning of the
sedra. What is unusual this
week, however, is the extent
to which the name not only
provides a backdrop for this
particular sedra, but also
does so for most of the
readings in the Torah. The
very name Bemidbar ("in
the desert") serves as a re-
minder that the desolate
emptiness of the Sinai Des-
ert is the setting for what we
read and study throughout
the major part of the year.
It is a bit jarring, then,
that week in and week out
we find ourselves trans-
ported to this barren and
forbidding place. It is not
just that the desert is out of
sync with the reality of the
contemporary world; it is
also out of kilter with the
ethos of almost every gen-
eration in Jewish history.
Why, then, is the Torah
which, after all, stands for
everything we are, rooted in
a place in which we spent
but one or two generations
among the many in our his-
tory? What exactly is the
importance of the desert?
Other generations have
wondered the same and
commented on the signifi-
cance of the desert. Usually
they connected the desert's
significance with Torah it-
self and the fact that it was
given here. Here, rather
than Eretz Yisrael, says one
tradition, so that no one
tribe might claim that
Torah was bequeathed to it
alone. Here in this forsaken
place, says another tradi-
tion, to remind us that it is
God's Torah which brings us
from misery to human ful-
fillment, from alienation to
community.

But, to sense the real
power of the desert and to
begin to understand its
enduring significance for
Jews and Judaism, we must
return to the Sinai itself.
This vast and empty place,
largely unchanged over
thousands of years, is
strangely alive and inti-
mate. Surrounded by miles
of sand, looming mountains
and too much silence, one is
subject to a host of contradi-
tions. It is here, as in no
other place, that we know
we are one small speck in
the universe yet are also in-
timately tied to the One
Who Called the Universe
into Being. It is here, as in
no other place, that we have
a heightened sense of being
alive, yet are also acutely
aware of the reality of

John Moscou'itz is a rabbi at
Temple Oheb Shalom in
Baltimore.

• • . a A



.

t X

s a t} A

4

death. In her book, Where only the desert could mag-
Mountains Roar, the con- nify for the first generation
temporary Israeli journalist and symbolize for later ones
Lesley Hazelton puts it this the most basic and enduring
way: ". . It seems to me 'dynamic 'of the human ex-
that all Western society's perience: the struggle of 1
dealings with the desert — over death, and the nec
exploration, development, sity of drawing meaning
religious experience — are from that endeavor.
It was in the vast spaces of
the Sinai desert, with noth-
ing but time ahead of them,
that the first generation of
Parashat
Jews — still stunned by the
Bemidhar:
experience in Egypt, still
startled by the thunder and
Numbers
lightning at God's moun-
1:1-4:20. Hosea
tain — had to confront
themselves.
2:1-22.
They could not hide from
anything — not from them-
selves or one another, not
rooted in the desert as a from their God, not from
deathly place, and that the any hope or any fear, any
fascination with the desert dream or any past.
is part of the ageless human
Ultimately, then, it is for
struggle to come to terms the same reason that week
with the conditions of exist- after week, we open up the
ence, with the inevitability Torah and return once more
of death after life and life to the desert, hoping that
within life."
amidst everything else we
With the aid of this in- focus on, we will not lose
sight, then, Torah is rooted sight of the desert and its
in the desert (or to put it in meaning.
traditional terms, God gave Copyright 1984,
the Torah here) because National Haourah Committee

Beth Abraham Hillel Moses
plans graduation exercises

Beth Abraham Hillel
Moses Religious School will
hold its 1984 confirmation
and graduation exercises at
7 p.m. Thursday in the
Hillel Day School au-
ditorium.
Under the direction of
Cantor Ben-Zion Lanxner,
the graduates will conduct a
Maariv service complete
with traditional melodies.
Rabbi A. Irving Schnipper
will welcome the parents
and guests. The address to
graduates and confirmands
will be presented by Dr.

Dinner, prayers
in Ann Arbor

Rabbi Aharon Goldstein
announces that Chabad
House in Ann Arbor, 715
Hill, will have prayers, a
talk and dinner at 8:45 p.m.
today. Rabbi Goldstein will
speak on "The Jewish Trio
as It Is FoUnd in the Torah,
Our People and Time."
Anyone interested is in-
vited. There is no fee, but
reservations are requested
for the dinner.
On Saturday morning at
10 a.m. there will be serv-
ices at the Chabad House
with a continuation of the
Friday night discussion. For
information, call Chabad
House or Rabbi Goldstein,
1-995-3276.

Gary Faber, principal of
West Bloomfield High
School. The confirmands
will also address the
graduates and guests.
Barry V Levine is the di-
rector of education at Beth
Abraham Hillel Moses
Religious School.
Graduates include:
Danielle Barron, Nancy
Brooks, Paul Cohen, Hilary
Dzodin, David Edelstein,
Michelle Feldman, Michael
Flam, Steven Friedman,
Hindy Hoffman, Susan
Katz, Sherri Lavine, Jodi
Levine, Elliot Lovy, Sha-
heen Moghadam, Amanda
Niskar, Howard Norber,
Joshua Rubin, Stuart Shi-
land, Adam Treitman,
Michele Zeltzer and Phyllis
Zucker.
Alan Newman, Lisa
Raboi and Jocelyn Seitzman
will be confirmed during the
exercises. The parents
Kitah Dalet, next yea
graduating class, will serve
as hosts of a reception that
immediately follows the
ceremony.

JA assembly

New York — Max Fisher,
of Detroit, will head the
American delegation at the
annual assembly of the
Jewish Agency, slated for
June 24-28 in Jerusalem.

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