May 19, 2023 / 29 Iyar 5783

 Light Shabbat candles at 7:06 p.m.
Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,

Bamidbar, meaning 'in the desert', is the name of the fourth book of the Torah detailing the next 38 years of our ancestors' wanderings. It is also the name of its first parasha. The English name, Numbers, comes from the commandment in the opening verses to take a census prior to their conquest of the land of Israel. The Hebrew language of this command, se'u et rosh kol adat b'nai Yisra'el, literally means "Raise/lift up the heads of the entire community of Israel." 
There are two ways to count people - individually and collectively. The interesting language of 'raising/lifting up the heads' seems to suggest to us a reminder that while census taking is concerned with reaching an aggregate number, we need to do so cognizant of the uniqueness of each individual and his/her special attributes, needs and concerns. It is a reminder that our actions and choices directly impact the lives of those around us.
This is what we seek to do in Congregation Kehillah, fulfilling the commandment to 'raise/lift up' the heads, hearts and souls of the kehillah (community) both individually and collectively, making us stronger, healthier and more whole.
A kavannah before candlelighting on Shabbat Bemidbar

Dear God, please 'raise up my head' so that I may see the good in others and cherish them for the Divine spark they hold within (even as they differ from me in ways I may not fully understand), and help others to both see and acknowledge the special person I am, too. Please help me to celebrate my own uniqueness and special attributes, knowing that I, too, have been created in Your image! 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman
Congregation Kehillah
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