There is tremendous value in knowing where we are and where we’ve been. This week, as we conclude reading the Book of Numbers with the double Torah portion Matot-Mas’ei, the Israelites are concluding their wilderness wanderings. We see that Moses has recorded the starting points of their various marches (Num. 33:1-49). Moses, at God’s instruction, is making note of the past in order to prepare the Israelites for their future.
During these past few months of living during a pandemic, we may have felt that we were in our own wilderness. Although we are still a bit uncertain of what the future holds, we are transitioning into greater activity and increased, albeit still distanced, social interactions. How we choose to remember where we’ve been these past few months will determine if we emerge just “having survived,” or if we have grown through the experience and become better prepared to deal with our future.
As we reflect back on what has mattered to us most during these past few months, we might allow ourselves to dwell on the things that affected us negatively, perhaps stress, loneliness or even boredom. Alternatively, we can focus on how someone in our community surprised us with an unexpected phone call, or how touched we were by the neighbor who brought us groceries. Perhaps our positive experiences included strengthened family relationships and discoveries of new interests. Where we’ve been, as well as the memories we choose to carry with us, will affect what we make of our future.
As individuals we should be asking ourselves “Did we do enough for others?” “Did we show enough appreciation for what others did for us?” As a community we should be asking questions like “What aspects of our pandemic Temple life do we continue in the future?” “How have the needs and priorities of our community changed?”
Even for those of us who need to continue in self-isolation, we can still reflect on where we’ve been, how we’ve used our time up to now, and perhaps decide to make changes going forward.
May where we’ve been lead us to a better future.