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 (don't forget to respond to the US census now underway) 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. And, in this COVID-era, it is a reminder that our actions and choices directly impact the lives of those around us, so wear those masks for shmirat ha-nefesh (as we learned about at a recent Kabbalat Shabbat, the Jewish value of protecting life).
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.
Shavuot starts next Thursday evening (May 28th) and lasts one or two days, depending on your practice. Be sure to join us 'at Sinai' Thursday from 6:00-6:30 PM and, if you are able to, Friday morning the 29th at 10:00 AM. Light your yizkor candle before lighting the Shavuot festival candles next week.