Parashat Bamidbar – Erev Shabbat 27 May 2022 (5782)
Week of 22-28 May 2022
Torah portion : Numbers 1 :1-4 :20 Haftarah : Hosea 2 :1-22
Theme: Order in Chaos
Parashat Bamidbar contains the names of the tribes of Israel, the census and the different roles and places each one occupies. Due to the nature of the narrative, the reader is lost in the relaying of names and numbers. The Women’s Torah Commentary gives two reasons to understand the purpose of the counting: to take stock of the strength of Israel’s fighting contingent as they prepare to enter Canaan; and to determine who belong to its ranks as a nation of united tribes. [Haverlock, 791] As the parashah progresses, one gets the impression of order which is necessary if this newly formed “nation” is to succeed in conquering Canaan.
It is interesting to note that each contingent is oriented towards the Tabernacle as the center. According to The Women’s Torah Commentary; the Tabernacle “creates a sense of order in the unfamiliar chaos of the wilderness” and “helps orient the Israelites” to its vastness. [Eskenazi, 789] It is clear that the Torah, through this narrative, teaches us to create the necessary order and space to enable our encounter with the Divine so that our lives will be wholly centered on God.
The parashah is a reminder because our world today is in great chaos. We do not know what will happen next. COVID-19 is lingering with its variants. Then, there is the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. The ripple effects of these are evident in the lives of those who are already economically disadvantaged. These are part of our “unfamiliar chaos.” Life has become stressful because of the unpredictability of what’s coming next. Each one of us has developed ways of ordering our lives around these events and these shape our decisions and options. But how are we ordering our lives so that we may find stability and peace in God?
For Reflection and Discussion: In what ways are you ordering your life so that you may create spaces of encounter with the Divine in the midst of our chaotic world?
Bibliography: Eskenazi, T.C. and Weiss, Andrea L. (eds.) The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (New York: 2008)
This week’s Parasha Commentary was prepared by
Sr. Petite Lao, RNDM, Philippines, Bat kol Alumna 2010, 2014, 2019