As I write this final parsha column for the spring, I wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed being a small part of Hillel for this year. I hope that we can continue to build upon what we have done when we return in the fall and look forward to getting to know more of you better.
I am always inspired by the power of our sacred text to impact upon our lives. As we read the Torah and think about the ways in which its lessons provide direction to our lives, I find that the Torah is truly a tree of life to those who hold fast to it…(as the prayer says….)
A colleague of mine, Rick Sherwin, wrote the following in a discussion about counting the omer (we count each night between the second night of Passover and Shavuot, the omer which is a way in which we prepare for the spring harvest through counting a special barley offering…. between Passover and Shavuot….
“…An aspect of the mitzva to count each of the 49 days is to create a bridge between Pesach and Shavu’ot, between physical liberation and spiritual freedom. ”
Immediately upon leaving Egypt, the generation of the Exodus was hardly prepared to embark on a completely new way of life. They could not automatically emancipate themselves from their previous environment, a society encompassed by the spirit of superstition and paganism. In anticipation of their new role as GOY KADOSH, a nation of holiness, they were charged to transform themselves one step at a time until they were ready to receive the Torah at Sinai. Freedom from slavery is incomplete without the freedom to study Torah.
The underlying message to both themes is to count each day and to thank God in the process. The psalmist teaches (Psalm 90): Teach us to count our days [and to make every day count]…For the days of our lives are limited, the time is short and our days are soon gone by and we fly away.
Individuals whose lives have been characterized by enslavement to routine may ultimately ask themselves, ‘Where have the years disappeared? What have I done with my years?’
As I think about my time at GMU this spring, I have realized just how quickly time passes by when we are having a good time. I hope that as each of us thinks about our own personal journeys, we will find ways (or experience revelations) which will help us to find meaningful ways in which to spend our days. I also hope we can find special times to study the Torah and our sacred writings…they can make such a difference in our world.
Finally, please remember that May 9 is Mother’s Day and if you are fortunate enough to be able to see your mom, please tell her how much you love her. And if you can’t see her, please call her….and if you and she are estranged or in conflict, perhaps this can be the Mother’s Day to make peace…and if your mom is no longer in this world, I hope you have good memories…
Rabbi Bruce Aft