Parshat Bamidbar: Surviving adversity

Julia Blumberg
Julia Blumberg (David Blumberg)

By Julia Blumberg

This week’s parshah is Bamidbar, which tells the story of our people’s exodus from Egypt and is focused on their 40 years of wandering in the desert before Shavuot when we receive the Torah. While the Jews were escaping hardship, bondage and persecution as slaves in Egypt, they were immersing themselves into desolation in the desert.

In the past I would have difficulty relating to a passage that evokes such dark imagery of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness. After all, for all of our lives, we have been fortunate to have been blessed, baruch Hashem, with parents and family that have nurtured us physically and spiritually. But then two years ago, we all awoke one morning to a pandemic that made us feel isolated, fearful and sometimes questioning our own faith with a feeling of hopelessness.

While the story on the surface, just as the pandemic, is about these dark images and hopelessness, it is also the story of how we can survive the harsh adversities of life by keeping our faith in Hashem and being united as a community of Jews and people who come together collectively to restore and celebrate life.

The lessons of the parshah are as applicable today as they have been for many generations for Jews and people of all heritages. As Jews we have been persecuted from generation to generation, but every generation has risen up and persevered through faith in Hashem.

Examining my own heritage of being both Ashkenazi and Persian reveals courageous Jews from Esther and Mordechai to the Jews of Poland who rose up in the Warsaw ghetto to fight the Nazis to the ultimate achievement of the statehood of Israel. While the pandemic has taken 6 million lives and scared us, frightened us and left us in isolation, we have come together united as a community with great resilience and the resolve to battle back for a better life. On a daily basis I have witnessed people who have great faith and resilience, and seeing these role models gives me great strength to continue my journey fearlessly through the proverbial desert to reach the summit of Mount Sinai to find my portion in the Torah.

Julia Blumberg is a sixth grader at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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