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Counting the numbers 

04/13/2023 04:42:10 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

As a mom of two small children, you can imagine (and perhaps relate) to the repetition that occurs when kids are learning to count. They love saying the numbers over and over, sometimes correctly, most of the time, not. They enjoy practicing by counting their toys, food, people, while walking up steps, or counting anything! Even though this immerging skill can be frustrating and hilarious to observe, it’s an important and crucial part of the learning process.

Numbers are a critical part of life. They often point us in the right direction, they help us determine how much or how little we need of something, they help us calculate many significant factors. Numbers also help us determine when and how to celebrate our holidays, especially those based in Torah. Of course, this applies directly to the celebration and conclusion of Passover. And now, it’s also relevant to the counting of the Omer!

You may know that most non-Reform diaspora Jews finish Passover on the 8th day, while Israeli and Reform Jews follow Torah, which clearly stipulates 7 days of Pesach. For most of us, we concluded our abstention from chametz this past Wednesday. For others, you enjoyed that first bite of freshly baked bread Thursday night. No matter when you ended your Pesach, I hope it was meaningful and full of delicious food!

It's not just Passover that got me thinking about numbers this week. This Shabbat, we’ll read from Parashat Shmini. The word Shmini translates to “eighth,” meaning the eighth day following Aaron and his sons’ previous seven days of making expiation with all God has commanded of them.

Torah has a lot of rules regarding numbers, how long things will take to complete, how many of a certain item you need, and more. When those rules are not followed, disaster may strike. That happens later in this Torah portion when Nadav and Abihu don’t follow the rules.

Numbers require a certain level of focus and attention. They are precise. They serve important purposes and roles. And, when we use them correctly, they can make our lives better, more fulfilling, more engaging, more exciting.

The next time you see a number, take a moment and think about it’s purpose in your life. Does it have a special significance? Or, is it something ordinary? Consider your children learning to count and consider how significant that development is, and also, what does their counting suggest? Numbers are important, but also, they speak a whole other language. What can numbers teach you?

Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784