I love those moments when a simple word or phrase from our ancient Torah text finds new relevance in our modern times. This week, our Torah reading Naso is in Numbers, the fourth book. It continues to describe the first census of the Israelites in the wilderness.

 

“Naso” translates as “lifting up to be counted,” and each person in the tribe of Levi is having their unique jobs described. Rabbi Mark Borovitz offers a great teaching about “how important it is to be counted and that we all have a unique purpose.  We need to be reminded of this because we seem to forget these teachings…We can make a difference and just as each journey begins with one step, each change and every improvement in the world begins with one person. Look at our history – individuals have caused change to happen; consider Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Theodore Herzl and many others. We are all obligated to see ourselves as people who count, and we need to stand up and be counted. By doing this, we fulfill the first commandment given to us by God: become God’s partner in making our corner of the world a little bit better.”

 

As we enter Shabbat, our time and place for quiet contemplations, I’ll offer you a few prompts for you to consider: How do you know you matter or count in this world? What do you stand for? Then ask, what changes have you already brought about to make life better for yourself and others? And what more might you do?

 

Better yet than a Shabbat contemplation, perhaps we can each commit to “lift up to be counted” every day after, by keeping these prompts near at hand every day after.

 

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Allan