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Buds and Blossoms

The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. — Numbers 17:8

The Torah portion for this week is Korach, which means “Korah,” from Numbers 16:1–18:32, and the Haftorah is from 1 Samuel 11:14–12:22.

Tibetan monks engage in a very interesting art form. They create mandalas – intricately designed pieces of art – with colored sand. The process of dropping the sand carefully in order to create the elaborate designs takes days. Then, when the mandala is complete, they pour the sand into the sea. By doing this, they demonstrate that life isn’t just about achievement and completion. The process of getting somewhere or creating something is also valuable.

After Korah and his followers were swallowed by the earth, God commanded another demonstration that would determine who His chosen one would be. Each head of the 12 tribes brought an almond branch with his name on it. The almond branch belonging to God’s chosen priest would sprout. The next day the people discovered that not only had Aaron’s branch sprouted, it had also produced flowers and fruits!

In the normal process of creating fruit, first a bud appears and then it turns into a blossom. Next, the flower falls off and then the fruit emerges. However, according to the Jewish sages, Aaron’s staff went beyond the natural process. Miraculously, Aaron’s staff didn’t just bear fruit – it also maintained the buds and blossoms that preceded the fruit.

Now, all God promised was that the chosen one’s staff would begin to sprout. Wasn’t it enough of a miracle that Aaron’s staff went from bare to bearing fruit overnight? Why was it necessary to leave the buds and blossoms intact?

The rabbis suggest a beautiful answer. The fruit is the end product — the result of tilling the land, sowing, watering, and harvesting. Normally, we judge our success by the result – the fruits of our labor. Yet, there is value in the process, too. The buds and blossoms represent the process that goes into the act of creating something. Their presence on Aaron’s branch teaches us that our journey in life is just as important as our destination.

Where are you on your journey? If you are like most of us, you probably haven’t reached all of your goals yet. Sometimes it can be frustrating to have come so far and yet not get to where we want to be. Our lesson today shows us that we need to appreciate where we are right now. What we have right now is beautiful. Who we are right now is valuable. We need to appreciate our stage in life and our place on our spiritual path. Let this bring us peace and give us strength to continue working toward our goals.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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