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Countup

Friday, 5 May, 2023 - 9:21 am

It’s not easy being a community without a home. As construction at the Chabad Jewish center progresses, it’s exciting to see the end in sight!

In some sense it must be providential that we are at this stage during the counting of the Omer.

In fact, this week’s Torah portion, Emor, speaks of the mitzvah to count the Omer. Our tradition teaches that the 49 days of counting the Omer correspond to the 49 days that the Jewish people counted from when they left Egypt until they received the Torah at Sinai.

In modern times anticipating a great event such as a new year or a rocket launch is marked by counting down to zero, when the event occurs.

But our ancestors followed a different pattern.  One might argue that the Jews’ counting toward Sinai was anticlimactic.  Wouldn’t the drama have been elevated if Revelation at Sinai was zero hour?

Why did the Jews count up to the Giving of the Torah, and why do we now count up to 49 rather than down to zero?  After all, isn’t zero an absolute target, giving greater emphasis to our anticipated destination?

The past months have been full of anticipation to move into our new spiritual home.  As we prepare to enter into our expanded and renewed space, we arrive at a powerful realization – we are just beginning. We have not taken a leave of absence only to resume our previous activities.  The efforts to get us thus far are only paving the way for the work yet to come.  If – after all this preparation – our journey is over or stagnant, we indeed have a net result of zero.

We are eager to embrace our new facility because it will enable us to increase Torah classes, social get-togethers, delicious kosher meals, youth programs, and more! It’s not a resumption of activities. We are creating a home that will allow us to grow and reach even greater heights.

Judaism looks at life and our relationship with our Creator as a constant progression, a work continuously in the making.  We must never be satisfied with the status quo, but yearn and strive for greater goodness and sanctity, for another mitzvah, for another opportunity to discover the G-dly within and without.

The Jews were not looking to arrive at Sinai and say, “This is it. We are done.”

Rather they – and we – continuously attempt to improve and advance.

The journey has just begun.

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