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Confidence in Caring

This week’s parasha contains a famous verse which we sing whenever we open the Ark to take out a Torah scroll: “Vay’hi binso’a ha’aron vayomer Moshe…” – “And it was, whenever the [Holy] Ark would travel, Moses would proclaim, ‘Rise up, God, let Your enemies disperse, and let those who hate You flee.’”
The next verse is recited when the Torah is returned to Ark: “Uv’nuḥo yomar…” – “When [the ark] would come to rest, he would say, ‘Return, O God, the myriads of thousands of Israel.” (Numbers 10:35-36)
These two verses are emphasized in a unique way when scribed in a Torah scroll: a lone, backwards Hebrew letter nun (‘׆’) is on each side of the short paragraph, serving to highlight these verses.
In the desert, the Ark would travel in front of the Children of Israel, showing them the way. Moses’s words were directed to God but intended mostly for Israel, to give them courage as they travelled through and to the unknown. Though many dangers awaited them, they needed to forge ahead with confidence, heads held high, believing that enemies would fall to the sides and that Israel would prevail.
When they would camp, though, the message was not to camp with relaxation and decadence after a hard day of travel. Again, Moses spoke to God but the message was intended for Israel: return all the multitudes of Israel to their homes as well. The message was: ‘do not relax before you care for others.’ Do not think of yourselves before thinking of others.
We are not travelling through the Sinai Desert today, but in life we each are travelling through our own deserts, through much unknown, on the way to an uncertain destiny. Both of the above messages apply to each and every one of us. We must not be overly fearful and cower away, unable to realize our potential. We must forge ahead with confidence, optimistic that by doing our best we will somehow reach our goal. And we must also remember that we are not islands. We are all threads in the large web of life. And when we think of relaxing, we must do our best to make sure all others have the ability to relax in health, safety, and comfort as well.
In modern times, the face mask might be the best ‘holy object’ we can learn from, as it supposedly protects others from being infected by the wearer unknowingly, more than it protects the wearer from others. Wear a face mask whenever you leave your home! It shows that you care!
Shabbat Shalom and Stay Safe!