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Weekly D'rash and Parsha Nasso

This week's Torah portion continues the theme from last week of getting prepared for the wilderness journey. The overall theme is that preparation requires good organization and an internal strength of character and spirituality. The reason is that the journey will have all kinds of blessings and challenges.

The portion begins with a description of the responsibilities of the Levites. Remember that the priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. Their function was centered on the transportation of the Tabernacle. They were responsible for the building and tearing down of the Tabernacle as well as carrying the different parts of the Tabernacle from place to place. The second part of the portion is about character and spirituality. It emphasizes the confession of sin and being separated for the purposes of God. The Aaronic Benediction is located at the end of this section. The last part of the portion is about the presentation of offerings by tribal leaders. The overall message is that success on the journey only comes when there is a communal sense of calling and dedication. Everyone had a role to play in reaching the Promised Land.

If we are going to be successful in our calling as a congregation, we must know where we are going and live accordingly. The goal for us is to stay on course during the journey (we will save the specifics for another time). This requires responsibility with respect to our time, resources, abilities, and personal devotion. This means responsibility in everything!

In later Torah portions we will learn that the people became distracted by every difficulty, and it wore them down to the point where they did not trust that God would really finish the journey with them. We are all susceptible to periods of discouragement. However, if we are wholeheartedly dedicated to the journey, we will serve, give, follow, confess, and build up one another so that we can all keep moving forward. Not everyone was a Levite. Not everyone took a Nazirite vow. Not everyone was a tribal leader. But everyone was vital! Even if that meant only putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward with the others. The passage that serves as a summary is Deuteronomy 6:4–9 which exhorts us to love God with every ounce of our being. In the New Covenant Scriptures, we read that to live is Messiah and to die is gain. This means that every aspect of my life is under the leadership of the Messiah. Nothing is more important than moving forward with the Lord. May we all complete the journey with the right focus and a wholehearted heart for the Lord and one another.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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