This week we have been reading the first parashah of the fourth book of Torah entitled Bemidbar and the parashah is of the same name (1 to 4:20). Bemidbar means 'in the wilderness' and that's where the Israelites are and will remain for this book and the fifth. There is much attention to detail in this reading with limited guess work as to where each tribe is to stand and what their task is to be. There is attention given to the encampment and the placement of each tribe (family) as well. Given the opinion of most that to actually lift and move the Mishkan would be virtually (or in reality) impossible. It has been estimated to be at too heavy and very dense. The particulars of each of the more moveable parts are not easily moved as well. And then there are the numbers of people casually moving together like a beautifully choreographed troup. A mere 600,000+ (and that's just the count of the men over 20) are projected to be heading toward the mountain approaching their future home. A careful look at this parashah will help you visualize this experience.
But what can we make of it? The immovable part is easy. We've all tried that and unless there is courageous adrenal or a village to help us it doesn't work. So maybe that's a thought. What does it take to help us move seemingly immovable objects or other impediments in our lives?
But I'm really fascinated by the way the Mishkan was surrounded to be protected. That's the piece I'd like us to think about as we proceed on this amazing Family Vacation of all Family Vacations. Forty years of Family Vacation. I shudder. So here's how they packed and here's where you sit in the 'car' and here is how we make sure that all the things we hold precious are protected. Seat belts, not then, but now. Positioning so that the cherished are in safe places on the ride and care is taken to pack all that we need to keep us healthy and safe. If we surround too carefully or made too many precautions where is the fun part?
I remember very well Family Vacations. In memory they were perfect and filled with stories. In reality they had their moments. Even loving the people involved dearly as we did, often the juggling acts were monumental, albeit overcome. But the precautions were always the same. Everyone needed to be in their special places so they could be watched over and protected. On one outing Sarah wandered off firmly attached to a blue jean leg (knee high was all she could see) and the leg did not belong to a member of the family. It became an indelible memory and a lesson. Complaints about who picked what and the 'who knows best' rule was obeyed. I need not even go into "are we there yet?"
Now this trip was different in more ways than our FVs. Everything they wanted or needed had to be with them and there was no going home to get it. Much depended on who was where and how they stayed there.
I don't know if the journey across the wilderness happened. I do know that in my life, the memory and lessons of FVs and even short sojourns were filled with preparation. May your Shabbat be filled with enough caution and care to protect the ones you love and enough time to appreciate the ones you prepared for.
Shabbat Shalom, marilyn (who's bringing the suntan lotion)
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