Guard It
Beha'alotka "In your going up"
Numbers 8:1-12:16

Photo by Peter Pryharski on Unsplash

Guard it.

I attended a Writers' Conference on Friday, and we celebrated our 35th anniversary this weekend, so the newsletter is a little late. As a short homily on the portion Beha'alotkha, though, I'd like to encourage everyone to guard your portion. The priests and Levites were given tasks to perform, and just as every Israelite is charged with guarding the Shabbat, so every member of a Levitical family had mitzvot to guard as their portion in the Torah.

At the Writers' Conference, the keynote speaker gave writers some sage advice. She is a nationally-known and award-winning author. She told of how many times when she was a young woman that her mother would call and ask, "What are you doing?"

"Writing," she would say.

"Oh, then you're not doing anything. You're just typing on that typewriter. You can go shopping with me."

She went on to tell how eventually, she sometimes just had to say, "Mom, I have an appointment." This would appease her mom, and she would not insist that she quit "that typing" and join her for an outing.   The author desperately needed the silence to work.

The balance, she said, was caring for and respecting her mother, yet realizing that God had given her a gift that needed to be exercised. In order to exercise it, she had to guard it from people who simply did not understand the deep concentration required to write the kind of literature that would actually help pay the bills. She did have an appointment, an appointment to practice her gift.

When we walk in Torah, our Shabbat must be guarded. The people who try to encroach upon it with thoughtless scheduling are usually people we want to honor and respect, yet they are the ones who have the ability to tug on our heartstrings until they've dragged us away from our portion in the Torah, Shabbat.

If we said we had a doctor's or dentist's appointment, or even a job interview, there would be no argument, but because it's "just that Jewish thing," they have difficulty understanding how important it is to our present and our future.

People who don't understand the gift of Shabbat yet will esteem it lower than an appointment or recreational activity. They don't yet understand the gift, for it is only when one practices the gift and obligation of Shabbat that its great value in spiritual growth is understood. We do, and then we hear. When we hear, only then do we see.

Appreciating Shabbat requires the protected silence of Torah study, prayer, or simply walking to hear the voice of the Father.  Silence the cell phone; silence the tv; silence the seduction of "fun" in place of real pleasure on Shabbat.  

If you feel your Shabbat enthusiasm waning under the constant onslaught of well-meaning encroachment, then remember that white-hot fire in your spirit when you first realized that you were invited to guard the holiness of Shabbat.  You had fire and water, rivers of living water flowing out of you in love and appreciation for the Father's gift, your portion.

The spiritual growth that occurs in us on Shabbat will benefit everyone whose lives we touch even though they don't yet know it. We have a Divine appointment.

Guard it.

Torah Study Workbooks

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Orphanage and Outreach Update

The LaMalah Children's Centre has received the first of two large boxes of children's clothes and books sent last month.  Baruch HaShem!

Special thanks to our  regular donors and our new donors.  You keep the food in the pantry, the staff paid, the clothes on their backs, and school fees paid at LaMalah Children's Centre and, when the blessing is abundant, other Torah-observant children's homes such as the ones in Peru and India.  

Click on if you are new to our orphanage effort and want more info.

If you have children's clothes or children's books (in English) to send, you can mail them to:   
Peter W Ndungu
P.O.Box 724
Limuru 00217
East Africa

If you can help toward this goal, as always, we welcome your assistance.  For those of you who send monthly support to the orphanage, we can't thank you enough for fulfilling Messiah's commission.