When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils. — Numbers 7:1
The Torah portion for this week is Naso, which means “count,” from Numbers 4:21–7:89, and the Haftorah is from Judges 13:2–25.
It’s the month of May, and in many countries around the world that means graduation time. Millions of students will finish learning programs from elementary school through doctorate degrees and begin the next stage of their lives. Nothing captures the magnitude of this moment more than when students symbolically throw their graduation hats in the air. It’s a celebration of an end but also of a new beginning.
In this week’s reading we read about another culmination. We learn that “Moses finished setting up the tabernacle . . .” The Jewish sages point out that in Hebrew, the word chosen by Scriptures for “finished,” kalot, can also mean “bride.” One reason for the allusion to a bride at this juncture in time is because the children of Israel were the bride and God the groom; the completed Tabernacle would be their shared home. However, there is another significance to this word with a double meaning. While kalot describes an ending, it also points to a beginning. A bride is a symbol of a new beginning as a woman begins a new life with her marriage.
The word kalot, with its opposite connotations, teaches us that every end is also a beginning. At the moment described in Scriptures, the sages explain that everything that had happened in history occurred just for the sake of the moment when God would reside among His people. It was the conclusion of that segment in history and the ushering in of a new era.
However, I’d like to suggest that every single day marks the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. Albeit on a smaller scale, every day of our own lives is an end to our past and the start of our future. Every day is a “graduation” of sorts. We have finished the hard work that led us to this day, and the future shines brightly before us with infinite possibilities.
The beauty of an end is that we can let go of the things in the past that no longer serve us, that hold us back in life, or cause us needless pain. Yet, the celebration of an ending is also that we can take all of the positive, instructive, and joyful moments from our past and bring them with us into our future. Everything that has happened in our lives until this very day is what has led us to become the people that we are today. And yet, we are free to create a different and better future.
Today, let’s honor our past, envision our future, and celebrate today. “This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 NKJV).
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President