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D’var Torah - Bamidbar

From our Hebrew School Director Liora Ramati

This week marks the end of the school year! As my younger daughter is getting closer to finishing high school (one more year) the pressure is on to start her road to get into college. She is not done with one thing and is already tired thinking about the next steps she must take. But she is so fortunate, she has an older sibling that told her last night that she will help her with anything she needs and not just that, she actually got her excited about collage, telling her how that journey will get her ready for the long-term life, to know what she wants to do with it. 


This week after finishing the book of Vayikra, we are starting a new book, in the Midbar, (in the desert), in the nothingness, we will be here for a while, 40 years to be exact. How are we expected to grow in a desert? After all it is the wilderness, there is nothing – shum davr.

But something does happen in the desert, the Midbar Medaber. It talks to us and tells us the secret of the road. Teaching us the importance of the journey not just of the destination. The time, Zman (time) Midbar, we pass traveling is a crucial time in our inner growth to discover who we really are so we can arrive at our life destination. 

During the first and long portion of Bamidbar, we don’t receive any Mitzvot, just walking while remembering where we came from and where we want to get to. From one Station to the next. 


In life we are always on the way, on the way to graduate, on the way to finish our car payments, on our way to get our kids, to visit our parents and many more.

Ze Kore – is an Israeli song that talks about the way and what happens on the way.

It happens, that the road continues


It happens, we just need to keep on walking, 

Nothing is known, not a year or even a week,

We just need to keep moving,

And to think, if I could Repeat it all

But man…

It has happened

That the road got longer

It has happened

Didn’t know how it came to be

It has happened

It’s happening

And maybe

It will happen


In our last Torah portion, we spoke about walking and how we should walk erect and, in this portion, we are taking the next step in rising up when we are told to raise our head up high. This is the next level! This is our Graduation from one step to a higher step.

Numbers 1:2 – שאו את ראש כל עדת בני ישראל למשפחותםלבית אבותםבמספר שמות כל זכר לגולגלותם


“Lift the head” – Let the Israelites hold their heads high in pride.

The book of Bamidbar, in the wilderness, describes the Israelites wandering through a spiritual as well as a geographic wilderness. They are walking forward and upward simultaneously! Just like in the song, they don’t know how much time and what will happen they just know that they need to keep on walking. שום דבר לא ידועת לא שנה,

The march of the Israelites through the wilderness from Mount Sinai to the promised land, will take them through hostile environments, both natural and human. This is not the last time we took that journey, fortunately and unfortunately more Jews took it. 

Today, (כח באייר) during Yom Yerushalaim (Jerusalem day), the day commemorating Israel’s re-gain of control over the city in 1967, is also The Day of Remembrance for the Ethiopian Jewish Immigrants (also called the Sudanese Immigrants’ Day).  As we retell the story (Sipur al Haderech) of the road from the exodus to the holy land, we remember the modern stories in our time of a similar journey taken by the Jewish community of Ethiopia (Beta Israel or the Phalashim).

Today we remember approximately four thousand Beta Israel Jews who perished during the journey and while waiting for their immigration to Israel from the refugee camps in Sudan during Operation Achim. Their journey started in the late 1970s, when a wave of emigration from Ethiopia began, Jews from the Ethiopian community embarked on the path of immigration to the promised land of Israel and its capital Jerusalem.

This immigration was later assisted by the Mossad for Intelligence and Special Tasks and IDF soldiers. Thousands of Jews left their villages in Ethiopia on foot, posing as refugees, westward to refugee camps in Sudan. From there, the refugees were driven to the capital of Sudan, flown to a European country and from there to Israel. Other refugees were brought to the Sudanese coast of the Red Sea and were picked up from there by navy vessels or flown by air force planes from airfields trained in the Sudanese desert.

In 1984 and 1985, Operation Moses took place, the name was given knowing it was going to feel quite like the Exodus from Egypt. It was part of an agreement between the State of Israel and Sudan, Sudan allowed Jews to pass through it towards an airport from which they were flown to Brussels and then to Israel. After about 8,000 people ascended in this way, the operation was leaked to the press and as a result the Sudanese canceled their consent to the landing of planes in their territory. In addition to the many hundreds who were in Sudan waiting for their turn, thousands of Jews who did not know about the cancellation were already on their way from Ethiopia to Sudan.

Since the Jews did not know the way, they purchased the services of guides who sometimes abandoned them on the way after taking their money, sometimes while collaborating with robbers who robbed the refugees’ property and killed them. With the help of the guide, they had to walk on foot, on a mountainous route and a difficult desert route, and many died on the way from exhaustion, hunger, and diseases, and some were murdered by bandits or Sudanese soldiers. The Jews who died on the way were not buried for fear of the lives of those who were saved.


 In Sudan, in the camps where they arrived, there was not enough food, there was not always clean water, there was no adequate medical care, and the refugees were exposed to the abuse of the Sudanese soldiers and guards. Many died in the camps from diseases and epidemics, from thirst and hunger and some even committed suicide – some of them women who were raped and could not bear the shame. Also, no burials were held in the camps according to Jewish tradition. Some of those who managed to reach Sudan, were deported back to Ethiopia and had to make the whole difficult journey back to their home. It was a very difficult journey but staying behind was not an option.

Today About 15,000 Jews remain in Ethiopia (8000) and Sudan, and in many families some of the parents or children remain in Ethiopia and some in Israel. So may Jews waiting to embark on the road to the place they have been dreaming of: Jerusalem!

Later, about a thousand Jews were brought from the camps in Sudan to Israel in Operation Sheba, initiated by George Bush Sr., who was then the Vice President of the United States. Operation Sheba was managed by the CIA and the Mossad for Intelligence and Special Operations. A total of 16,965 Beta Israel Jews immigrated in the decade 1989-1990 out of 153,833 immigrants who immigrated during that period.

 Today is the 46th day of the Omer, we are almost arriving to the end of the road, Shavuot is the culmination of the 49-day period of the Omer, it is our spiritual journey progression from slavery to revelation.  As we arrive to z’man matan torateinu, the time of the giving of our Torah, consider it to be the end of our school year, our graduation. May we take the time needed to learn from it, share its wisdom, and celebrate its power with our loved ones and the entire world.


Wishing you all a great summer vacation with your family and friends!



Beth Moshe Congregation is filled with generations of South Florida families with roots and traditional values. 

2225 NE 121 Street, North Miami, Florida 33181

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305 891 5508