Stand up and be counted

by | May 15, 2015 | Torah Thought

It seems like just yesterday that we were all going to synagogue for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and all of the holy days associated with that time of year. Now, we are past Pesach, headed towards Shavuos, and starting the book of Bamidbar, the book of Numbers. This annual personal path is vital for personal growth and spiritual development. The Torah teaches that by observing all of the holidays, we are going through an annual process that is powerful and can change who we are as people and as Jews.

Much of our emphasis during the fall holidays is on individual development, but it is interesting to note that our spring holidays help to focus us on our national identity while, at the same time, force us to define our own, personal obstacles to obtaining true freedom.

Pesach defines us as a “free nation under G-d, indivisible.” The upcoming holiday of Shavuos brings us as a nation to Mt. Sinai where G-d gave the Jewish nation the greatest gift in human history—the Torah. As we are now ascending from Pesach to Shavuos, our job becomes to merge the energy that we attained through our personal development in the fall and the pinnacle of national freedom in the spring to climb up and once again receive our personal and national Torah, our eternal, spiritual bond to The Creator. Each day we are counting up to that event, recalling our past, but dreaming about our future. We should all be trying to take the lessons learned in holidays past and apply those lessons to our lives on a daily basis.

The Torah gives us the perfect prescription for living a life of spiritual greatness as individuals and as a nation. The book of Bamidbar, Numbers, starts off by teaching us about the census that the Jewish people performed during their time in the wilderness. This census is significant for many reasons. One reason is that we need to know that we are part of an amazing nation. Each and every Jew should be proud to be counted among our people. Learning about and exploring our heritage this time of year is one way to be counted. By committing to learning more about ourselves spiritually, we are, in effect, standing up and making a statement. Stand up and be counted!

—Rabbi Gershon Litt is executive director of the Norfolk Kollel, the director of Hillel at the College of William and Mary and rabbi of Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Newport News.