Monday, May 6, 2013

We Are A Work In Progress - Parashat Bemidbar

"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 (of fighters) by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head.  You and Aaron shall record them by their groups, from the age of 20 years up, all those in Israel, who are able to bear arms.  Associated with you shall be a representative of each tribe, each one the head of his ancestral house." (Numbers 1:1-4)

This week we begin the fourth of the books of the Torah.  This book, known as "Bemidbar", "in the desert", is a narrative of the wanderings of the Israelites. Instructions are given to take a census of the community, listing the names of every man over 20 who is able to bear arms.  Only the men were allowed to fight in battles, so, only they were counted.

But, things are different today. Who are the people in our Community? What are we concerned with? Today, we would count men and women, children and the elderly. We count those who work, and those who are unable to work, our loved ones who need care, and the ones who care for us. Today we also count those men, women and children who come to this country, that dream of a better future.

Our census is a work in progress. Parashat Bemidar shows us how our community once counted. We have come a long way. Today, we have the opportunity to dream, and we have the opportunity to count all people.

We are all the children and grandchildren of immigrants, and as a people that stands for compassion, we need to stand for immigration reform that is also compassionate and understanding. Let's never forget taking into account who we are, and who we can become.

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