The Akeda Foundation
"We are our brothers and sisters keepers".
D’rosh Bamidbar (“In the Desert”) Numbers 1:1 -4:20
Haftorah : - Hosea 2:1-22; 1 Samuel : 20:18-42. –Haftorah Machar Chodesh (Read when the Sabbath coincides with Rosh Chodesh in this case Sivan. Synagogues follow different customs for the Haftorah reading.
Date: May 27, 2017
Candle Lighting: 8:08 pm
Specials: Memorial Day, Monday May 29th, 2017
JFK 100th Birthday, Monday May 29, 2017
Erev Shavuot (May 30th) all night study session: Synagogues and homes decorated with flowers, greens and fruit.
Shavuot, May 30- June 1, 2017; 5-7 Sivan 5777; Reading of the Ten Commandments- Two Scroller
Reading of the Book of Ruth during Shavuot, known as “The Festival of Weeks”,
“Festival of First Fruits”, Special Foods- Dairy / Ice Cream Parties
Yizkor- June 1, 2017 (Special Memorial Service); King David died on Shavuot and
Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov-Founder of the Chassidic Movement.
This week’s reading, Bamidbar, is the first Parsha (Segment) of the Fourth Book of Numbers out of the Five Books of Moses. Even in Moses’ day there was a military industrial complex which relied on a census to determine draft eligibility. The census resulted in 603,550 men being draft eligible between the ages of twenty (20) and sixty (60). Kohanim and Levites while included in the census were given the equivalent of the draft deferment-(of my day in the Viet Nam Era) the treasured 2A and 4F. This of course was the student deferment (2A) .There were also deferments based on physical medical challenges, (4F), as well. (Num.1:46-47)
But make no mistake about it; G-d took the Israelites requirement to have an Army representative of the twelve (12) tribes seriously because it was mentioned more than once in this Parsha (Segment). The opening line was a call to arms:
” And the Lord spoke unto Moses Bamidbar," In the wilderness of Sinai in the Tent of Meeting”… “from age twenty (20) and upward every male all that are able to go to war”… (Num.I:1, 3, 18-20).
Everybody had an assignment. For the Levites, Priestly Class; it was maintaining the Sanctuary and its accessories and being the Kohanim support staff. (Num.I:47-54).
Military insignias (Delegim-Banners/Flags) were used to identify the three Tribes composing a Division(s) by having their symbol on the banner. (Num.2: 1-2). Levite service was under the direction of Aaron and his sons. Sadly, the deaths of Aaron’s sons Abihu and Nadab was a stark reminder that guidelines were to be followed by those in the Priesthood along with expected ritual conduct of the priesthood. (Num. III: 10-12).Violating the guidelines by either the Priests or 'the common man’ would result in death for any unauthorized coming into the Sanctuary unauthorized contact or offering unauthorized rituals/sacrifices. (Num.III: 38, 51).
Military service wasn’t the only thing with term limits as the age limits for service to the Levites in the Tent of Meeting was ages thirty to sixty (30-60). (See Num. above).
Serving in the military be it G-d's or one's county, it is an honorable profession albeit much maligned including by those who have never served in a military anywhere. Since G-d is all knowing, ordering the creation of a military taking' a soldier census' and developing a identification banners for each division of three tribes is sending a message of 'trouble on/ or over the horizon'. More often than not soldiers are sent to faraway places where customs languages and cultures are unfamiliar. Imagine being a soldier in G-d's Army "In the wilderness" when basically the same conditions apply.
Elvis Presley was drafted and served his two years as part of the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany. He released "G.I. Blues" in October of 1960, which hit No. 1 on Billboard Charts, to become a gold record in 1963 and Platinum in 1992. His record sales today exceed 40 million copies.
The words in “G.I. Blues” are telling, for they show a loyalty, but loneliness for those in Service. Home is where the heart is.
..."Occupation G.I. Blues, my G.I. hair to the heels of my G.I. Shoes, And if I don't go States be soon, I'm gonna blow a fuse"...
He recognized his very appearance was different and all he and the other soldiers wanted was to come home.
While Elvis represented one point of view the Shirelles in 1962 released "Soldier Boy", which was written in part by their manager and Sceptre Record Co., President Florence Greenberg.
What's amazing about the Shirelles is they were formed in 1957 from a high school talent show in Pasaic, NJ,. The Group was discovered by a friend Stan Greenberg's sister. She got her mother to go to the show and The Shirelles were signed by Florence Greenberg, President of Sceptre Records, who released "Soldier Boy" in 1962.
The group did the record in one (1) take and it topped the Billboard Charts for 3 weeks. With a haunting melody, they sang:
"Soldier Boy, My Soldier Boy, I'll be true to you." Unconditional love, loyalty and pride from the women's perspective. Norman Rockwell’s painting “Rosie The Riveter” was and will always be the symbolic explanation point, not just for WWII but for all conflicts in which U.S. service personnel are engaged in conflict.
The very same basic elements G-d are set out in designing 'The Heavenly Army', unconditional love and faith. The Shirelles were admitted to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
But Edwin Starr in his hit record “War “during the 1960’s 'The Viet Nam Era', said it best:
..."War, what it is good for, absolutely nothing "...
As an aside, recently the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered Orthodox Jewish males who are using the 'study exemption' from Service to now serve in an effort to show everyone must participate for Israel to remain free. This is/was a huge setback for those in the Orthodox community who were able to use religion as a way to avoid service while the population at large regardless of gender had to step up for service.
When I was in the summer of 1972 Law Clerk to the Chief Counsel of the National Religious Party’s Cabinet portfolio, I was in a male dorm on Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. There was a last minute change in orders delaying my apartment occupancy .It was worth the wait, especially because of the breath taking views of the Stadium as Israel prepared for the Maccabi Games(International Jewish Olympics).
Jewish Customs-L’Dor v’ Dor—Generation to Generation.
Bamidbar reminds us of our need as both a community and individually of the need to help those in need while keeping their dignity intact.
Just as today's religious institutions such as Synagogues, Churches, Temples, Mosques’ and etc., require money and sweat equity (whenever possible) to survive. So did the Priestly Class and Sanctuary upkeep and maintenance.
Thinking outside the box, Moses took G-d's instructions for an "In the wilderness" census utilizing 'Shekels' as the quantifier. The first born males were pledged to the Levites but 'redeemable' for five (5) shekels, after the first month of life. This became known as Pidyon Ha'Ben (Redemption of the Son). (Num.III:39-51). At home we have the mandatory sign up at eighteen (18) with the local Selective Service Board.
For my generation and myself December 1, 1969 changed everything with the “THE Lottery Draft” based on one’s birthdate. It was a national TV event. My date , November 7,1948 was #52.It meant I was a lock to have my student deferment ,2A, changed to 1A, eligible for military duty .Sure enough it happened I was going into my senior year(President of the Student Government Association) at University of Maryland, College Park, MD .and one of the international student body Presidents against the war. While I had places to go outside the U.S. I decided to serve because my Dad was with Gen Patton so we could have opportunities here .I wanted to continue his legacy even though Nam wasn’t close to WWII .Congress Declared war against Japan for WWII. It did not for Viet Nam creating the worst internal division since the Civil War.
Efforts to get into certain reserve units with friends were unsuccessful. The Marine Corps wanted me in their Platoon Leader Class (PLC). I took a pass as a new officer’s life expectancy was around 17 minutes. I needed to make a decision before my Draft Notice for the Army (2yrs) or Marine Corps (3yrs) came in the mail. Since the Marine Reserve Fourth Engineering Battalion out of Baltimore did “Toys For Tots” I signed up. The day after I was sworn in my Draft Notice came in the mail but too late to get me. Throughout Basic Training at Paris Island Depot they tried to get me to go to PLC. Fortunately our unit did not get called up to go over to that region. For years, as a lawyer, I’d get calls to go to Groton for their Military Law training. I have continued my practice of defending military personnel accused of violating the uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) without fees. Trial Defense Services (JAG) serves as Co-counsel.
Growing up I remember Dad telling me about the Pidyon Ha'Ben for males under age five (5), providing supplemental economic support to the Synagogue. Just as the generations preceding me participated in this custom, I participated as well with our sons, Thomas and Jonathon.
The only difference is Moses collected the money and then gave it to Aaron the Priests, while we give it directly to the Synagogue (Shul).
As for military service in Israel, it goes on with the added group of previously exempted individuals to avoid separatism.
Shabbat Shalom-A Peaceful Sabbath/ Shavuah Tov-A Good Week. Best to All. Reb’Z /R’Z/Stu