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Story: Parshat Korach, 7/5/19

07/09/2019 10:52:21 AM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion, parshat Korach, is about how after learning that the Jews will wander in the wilderness for forty years, there are a series of rebellions against God, Moses, and Aaron. Eventually things will calm down, and this story, told by Rabbi Edward Garsek (“God’s Miracles,” Three Times Chai, Laney Katz Becker, ed, p. 59-60, adapted.), envisions what it would be like as children are growing up in such a time.

Imagine a desert landscape, with sand, rock, and sparse vegetation. This is all the people has known for their entire lives. And a young boy looks out over the Land of Israel – with trees and greenery and wheat and vineyards. He asks, “Mother, is that where we are going? What are all these things we are looking at in this beautiful land?”

“Yes, my child. That is the Land of Israel.” The mother remembered stories her own mother had told her about the produce that was harvested in the land of Egypt. “Those big brown pillars with the green on top are called trees,” she told her son. “I’ve heard that many of them have sweet and juicy fruit that are unlike anything we’ve ever tasted. The yellow fields that are waving in the wind – that’s a type of grain called wheat. We can ground that up, add a few ingredients, and bake the most delicious bread.”

The little boy was astounded. “I guess God must have put these trees and all this grain right into the ground for us. Right, Mommy?”

The mother smiled fondly and said, “my dear little boy, I want to tell you something unbelievable. Those trees start out as seeds that are smaller than your little finger.” The boy gave his mother a puzzled look. “And that seed gets planted in the ground. With water and sunshine, the trees grow tall and fruit come every year. It’s an amazing gift that God has given to us to enjoy.”

The little boy looked up at his mother. He shook his head and said, “Mommy, it’s not nice to try to trick me.”

“What do you mean, sweetheart?” She asked.

“Every day I have seen how God has given us manna from heaven and twice as much on Friday so we can rest on Shabbat. I see how we drink out of Miriam’s well, which has followed us across the desert. I know that everyone thanks God because our shoes and our clothing never needs to be fixed. Those things I understand, Mommy, because they are so natural. But please, don’t try to fool me. Really! Big beautiful trees coming from such a small, tiny seed? Such miracles… even I know that is not possible!”

Such a beautiful story. As we celebrate with the Twis family and we welcome Aviv into the CBI community and the Jewish People, it offers a great opportunity to think about the idea of normal. What kind of normal do we hope to create in our homes, in our communities, and in our world? What are the norms that we want our children and all children to grow up in? And what kind of miracles do we hope that they will see?

I pray that we will all be able to see the miracles that will grant us, “…the wisdom to eradicate disease, the tools to end hunger, the courage and compassion to overcome hatred and bloodshed” (Naomi Levi, “A Prayer for a Better World,” Talking to God, p. 253.). I pray that peace will be the normal for the next generations. And I pray that we will do all we can to help us get to that Promised Land. Shabbat Shalom.

Thu, August 6 2020 16 Av 5780