We enter this Shabbat with a great sense of accomplishment. With seven weeks of this Mitzvah Corps summer behind us and hundreds of Jewish teens having left immeasurable impacts on the communities they’ve served and on one another, there’s a lot to be proud of. Our blog and social media feeds have demonstrated this impact, serving as a constant reminder of the value of this work. In spite of all of the challenges faced by people around the world, it truly is a blessing for us to engage the world around us, from Seattle to Costa Rica and beyond, in ways which transcend cultural background, sexual orientation, economic status and race. We’re identifying ways to make our world a better place, and we’re not just doing it with our words; we’re doing it with our actions.
The Torah portion this week, Matot-Mas’ei (Numbers 30:2 – 36:13) comes from the end of the Book of Numbers at a time when the Israelites are at the conclusion of their 40 years of wandering the desert, on the brink of [finally] entering the Promised Land. As they stood on the banks of the Jordan River, the 40 years of waiting and reflection and speculation suddenly shrank into a single moment which would bridge the past to the future for the Israelites. Their destiny firmly in their hands, what would the Promised Land provide that their period of wandering hadn’t – More answers or just new questions?
We ask a similar question to our Mitzvah Corps teens as their summer experiences come to an end. It’s imperative that we name and acknowledge the importance of the work we’ve done together. It’s more important, however, that we see this as only the beginning. This summer was our wandering in the desert, our chance to learn about the world and our role in it. The Promised Land is what happens now; how will we behave differently and trust our moral compasses to shape the future into something we’re excited about.
On this Shabbat, while we reflect, we also embrace the road ahead.
Jonah and Alexa