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פרשת במדבר
Erev Shavuot
Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon 

Dear Friends,

Our Torah portion this week which is read in the shadow of the Festival of Shavuot, ties in perfectly with the message and spirit of the Festival. The Israelites are in the desert (meaning of "Bamidbar") and a census is taken after the inauguration of the Tabernacle. The Levites are given their special responsibilities with detailed instructions and are to be counted separately from the general population. Through Moses G-d outlines the detailed camping formations of the 12 tribes which surround the Tabernacle, and Moses, Aaron and their immediate families camped in their designated areas east of the Tabernacle. 

The exact chronology of events is not always completely accurate in our Torah but we can gather that the activities in this week's portion took place following the revelation at Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments which we celebrate on Shavuot. We were all ONE nation with ONE heart at the foot of Mt. Sinai waiting, if not fully prepared to receive G-d's Law. In fact our lack of faith in G-d's protective power intensified by the delay of Moses to return from the fiery summit of Mt. Sinai led to the fashioning and worship of the Golden Calf which almost caused the extinction of the Jewish nation if not for the intervention of Moses. Tradition tells us that aside from the episode of the Golden Calf, the Israelites were so unprepared for receiving the Torah and did not rise up early in the morning, that G-d had to wake them with thunder, lightening, earthquakes and the blast of Shofar to bring them to their senses! To compensate and in a tangible way atone for this, we stay awake all night (the Orthodox that is) on the eve of Shavuot engaged in the study of Torah.

Therefore dear family and friends, as we stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai 4,000 years ago as one nation, with one heart, literally UNDER G-D, let us experience the revelation at Sinai with all of our 5 senses to fully absorb the meaning, mystery and most of all the majesty of the Festival!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
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