This week’s Torah portion and the book of Torah upon which we embark this week, Bemidbar, begins with a census (Numbers, Chapter 1) and a description of the ancient wilderness community in its encampment. (Numbers, Chapter 2) These descriptions conjure up an image of a neat and orderly community where everything is in its place. However, there may be foreshadowing in the title of the parasha. The word “bemidbar” means “in the wilderness.” The name and the stories that await us in this book promise that orderliness inevitably gives way to the unexpected. Isn’t it true in our lives as well– that just when we think life is all neatly arranged and falling into place– some unwelcome surprise comes our way? We cannot stop the wilderness from encroaching on our lives, but we can control how we pass through it. Both in Bemidbar and in life, managing the wilderness is the key to going forward with confidence.
Rabbi D. Feingold