by Benyamin Cohen
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer

Summertime is here. Every year, we read the Book of Numbers during the summer, and often it gets less attention then it rightfully deserves. So for the moment, let’s catch up with the Jewish people just after they escaped the wrath of the Egyptians and received the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

The Book of Numbers spans 39 of the 40 years in which the Jews wandered in the desert before they entered into the Promised Land. In a sense, they had 40 years to just hang out. This was their vacation, if you will. For over 200 years they had been slaves and now they were free. It was time to kick back their sandals, relax, and enjoy their daily allotment of manna from heaven.

Our sages tell us that this was a very critical time for the Jewish people. They had just received Hashem’s Torah and they now had free time to study and examine it. As a matter of fact, when they finally entered into the land of Israel and had to resume their mundane farming activities, they had less time for such a commitment to serious Torah study.

Where are we now? June has just begun and summer is getting underway. Images of relaxing vacations, lazy days at the beach, and sunny afternoons spent in front of the TV have been flashing through our minds for months now in eager anticipation of this time off from our normal schedule. But we’ve got to stop for a moment and take a reality check. Is that what Hashem really wants us to do? Do you think He would understand if we said, “C’mon G-d, cut me some slack. I’ve been working hard all year. Let me take the summer off.” We need to understand that Judaism is a 365 day-a-year experience.

It was in the desert, when the Jewish people were relaxing with not much to do, that they accomplished their most Torah study. During their free time, before everything got all hectic again, they immersed themselves in learning the wonders of the Torah. Can we do the same?

Summer has finally arrived. How will you be spending it? Can you add something meaningful to your Jewish journey this summer?

Shabbat Shalom, Lisa Steinmetz