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Desert Roots

Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20 )

by Rabbi Ron Jawary

Righteous people stay rooted to their eternal values.

"And God spoke to Moses in the Sinai desert" (Numbers 1:1). King David teaches us that a "good person will blossom like a palm tree". One of the reasons a good person is compared specifically to a palm tree is that it is the only tree that will produce fruit in a desert. Its roots are so deep that it can draw water from deep under the ground.

So too, a truly good person is able to do what is right, not because it's the norm in the society in which he happens to live, but because it is what's right. In every circumstance and situation, he will draw from his deep roots; he will blossom and produce fruits -- even in a desert.

This is really what the Jewish people are all about: our roots are so deep, reaching all the way back to Abraham and Sarah, that wherever we have gone, we have managed to draw from those roots and bring blessings into the world. Just look at Israel before 1948 and afterwards!

That is why Jews bring flowers into their homes on Shavuot. It is the day we stood in the desert to receive the Torah, and the flowers are to remind us that wherever we allow God and His Torah to enter, life blossoms -- even in the midst of a desert.

(Based on the teaching of Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik)

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