Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Table Talk - Bamidbar 5767

As happens most years, we read Parshat Bamidbar on the Shabbos before Shavuos - the holiday of the receiving of the Torah. What connection can we find between our parshah and the coming holiday?
The rabbis teach us that before the revelation, the Jewish people display an unusual sense of unity and togetherness. In fact, when the Torah tells us that the people camp at the base of Mount Sinai, it describes the people as a single unit: ויחן שם ישראל נגד ההר -- "and he -- Israel -- camped near the mountain."
Parshas Bamidbar begins by telling us that God speaks to Moshe במדבר סיני -- "in the Sinai desert." Rabbi Haim Yosef David Azulai (known as the Chida) notes that the gematria of the words במדבר סיני is equal to the word בשלום. God spoke to Moshe precisely because the Jewish people lived with one-another in peace.
Through this subtle message in the beginning of the parshah, explains Rabbi Azulai, we learn that the very best way to receive the Torah this week is through acts that promote Jewish unity. We should increase our acts of kindness for one-another, as well as our sense of love and caring for our fellow Jews. In this way, we pray that we truly merit to receive the Torah in the fullest sense.