JCHS News

D'var Torah: Parashat Bamidbar

Michelle Kushnir, Admissions Associate
There is a certain energy, a buzz, around JCHS during this time of year. This point of transition from school to summer–and for the seniors, from high school to graduation–creates an excited rush to get to the next step, the next phase. 
There is a certain energy, a buzz, around JCHS during this time of year. This point of transition from school to summer–and for the seniors, from high school to graduation–creates an excited rush to get to the next step, the next phase.  This Shabbat, the Shabbat before the holiday of Shavuot (a busy time in the Jewish calendar as well!), we read Parashat Bamidbar–a great reminder to slow down. The former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, offers a beautiful explanation of the importance of this parsha during this moment in the year.
 
“Bamidbar” means “desert” in Hebrew. In the Torah, the desert is the transition point between Egypt and the Land of Israel, the state of in-between for the Jewish people. But the prophet Elijah understands the unique beauty of the desert as more than just an intermediate location. When Elijah returns to the Sinai Desert many years after the Jewish people received the Ten Commandments there, he observes that “he encountered G-d not in the whirlwind or the fire or the earthquake but in the kol demamah dakah” (1 Kings 19:9 – 12) the still, small voice, literally “the sound of a slender silence,” according to Rabbi Sacks. It is, he says, “the sound you can only hear if you are listening. In the silence of the midbar, the desert, you can hear the Medaber, the Speaker, and the medubar, that which is spoken. To hear the voice of G-d, you need a listening silence in the soul.” Connection is not made in the anticipation of getting to the next stage, but in the silence of a vast desert.   
 
At JCHS, during this lead-up to summer, we create many opportunities to be the medaber and to hear the medubar, to create a midbar amidst the rush. Many students took the courageous step to run for the Knesset executive team last week, taking this “time in-between” to think about the ways in which they can help JCHS thrive next year, and presented their ideas to the entire school community. Just two weeks before graduation, seniors have started presenting their Keystone projects, sparking new interests for our students and teachers–from gardening and fitness, to fashion and dog therapy, and everything in between.
 
If each of us takes some time to create this midbar, where we can hear the voice of another without distraction, how much more meaning will we infuse into each of these days?
 
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Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.345.9777
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The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.