Bamidbar (in the desert) begins the fourth book of the Torah. It is referred to as “Numbers” in English, because there’s a lot of counting that happens – indeed, the primary story of this parsha is a huge national census. That’s really an interpretive title though. Bamidbar actually means “in the desert,” because, following the Exodus from Egypt, the desert is where the story of the Jewish people is played out. The desert is a transformative place. It took 49 days in the stillness and the wilderness of the desert until the people become ready for revelation – for the giving of the Torah, which we will commemorate on Shavuot next week.
As campuses begin to slow down and residence halls grow quiet for the summer, consider how this very different kind of midbar (desert) offers a contemporary opportunity to listen for new kinds of revelation What could the stillness help you to listen for this year?
Laura Yares, Ph.D., is the director of educational research and innovation at Hillel International.