The road not taken

June 3, 2016  

The Road Not Taken (Poem by Robert Frost, 1916) It’s a fairly well-known and beloved poem, which comes to mind each year as we begin the Book of Bamidbar and with Shavuot coming up fast. And Yom Yerushalayim gets into the thought process, as well.

The poem doesn’t match the issue at hand perfectly, but it is a pretty good focus of the issue. Remember that having left Egypt and gathered at Har Sinai to receive the Torah, our next destination was supposed to be Eretz Yisrael. Even before the Sin of the Spies resulted in close to a 40 year delay in our entering the Land, we seemed to have stalled from moving on from Har Sinai. We received the Torah towards the beginning of Sivan and did not leave Sinai until the 20th of Iyar of the following year. That’s almost a full year staying put at Mt. Sinai. One can say that we stayed there because the Cloud didn’t lift in all that time, but that was so probably because we weren’t ready to move away to the place of Divine Revelation – Har Sinai.

The Book of Bamidbar represents – in the Frost poem analogy – the path through the Midbar and the long time we spent wandering there. The fact is, there are good things to say about the maturing of the new generation in the Midbar, as well as negative things dealing with the many times we complained and the various experiences that ‘angered’ G-d. Shavuot represents the other path. Shavuot is Z’man Matan Torateinu – the time of the Giving of the Torah, but it is also that which celebrates and represents our entry into the Land of Israel and the building of the Beit HaMikdash.

Shavuot’s name of Yom HaBikurim, gives us a glimpse at what is down (or up) this other path. The counting of the Omer culminates (or should culminate) with the bringing of the MINCHA CHADASHA LASHEM, the Two Loaves offering on Shavuot… IN THE BEIT HAMIKDASH. Again, the Torah reading of Parshat Bamidbar gives us a glimpse of continued exile and the development of a Jewish society based on the Torah… but not in Eretz Yisrael. Shavuot shows us the other path, that leads towards Eretz Yisrael… faster and surer. Which path was the best for Bnei Yisrael to have taken back then? Not really the issue. They did what they did. But we are also standing before two different paths. And we glimpse a bit down each path. And we must make our own decision – to live and grow in Torah in Eretz Yisrael. What we decide will make all the difference. Let us bring the Geula closer and closer.


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