A Place for All to Traverse

Rabbi Steven I. Rein
June 11, 2012
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The lives that we live are all about journeys through the desert of time. The journeys that we have already traversed; the journey we are currently engaged in; and the vision of what journeys we hope to embark upon in the future. Throughout Jewish history, the single place of renewal and transformation was the midbar, the desert. From the journey of the Israelites after leaving Egypt to the sect that authored the Dead Sea Scrolls to the present day revitalization of the desert, the desert is a place of ultimate bliss.

For the sectarians, the redemption from Egypt and the period of desert wandering, crowned by the revelation at Sinai, served as a paradigm for the future. The imminent cataclysm would inaugurate both a return to the past and a new and previously unachievable future characterized by observance of the law, ritual purity, and perfection.

The prophet Hosea speaks to this point when he proclaims: “Assuredly, I will speak coaxingly to her and lead her through the wilderness and speak to her tenderly…there she shall respond as in the days of her youth, when she came up from the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:16-17)

The desert once again represents the place where Israel demonstrated her ancient faithfulness to God. The prophecies of hope project a renewal of sacred history. The desert serves as both a physical realm as the Israelites mark their transformation from bondage to freedom but it also marks a symbolic realm for all of us: a spiritual journey of rebirth and renewal.

We are all on our own personal and collective journeys through the midbar – seeking opportunities and windows of spiritual renewal. Let us put on our hiking boots and embark upon a sacred journey together – a journey that will ultimately result in our reaching the Promised Land of our future.

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