Friday, June 14, 2024/8 Sivan, 5784

Friday, June 14, 2024/8 Sivan, 5784

Parashat Naso Numbers 4:21−7:89

Dear Friends,

At first glance, this week the Torah Portion, Naso, seems to reinforce the English name of this Book of the Torah, Numbers. It begins with what seems to be (yet another) census. However, the Hebrew does not simply say count. Instead, it really says take note of, or pay attention to the people that are being tallied. In saying “Naso Rosh – Lift up the head(s) of, ”it is telling those in charge that the individuality of the people is important. They are not just numbers. They are human beings, and they have their own stories, their own struggles and their own successes. All of which are noteworthy.  

In fact, in the Book of Numbers, there is a great deal of humanity, of connection, and awareness of the human connection. Calling it the Book of Numbers sets us up to overlook all of that. If we allow ourselves not to be put off by the act of counting, but examine the “why” of it, we can uncover a wonderful lesson.

The first group in this portion to be counted are the Gershonites, this is being done for the purpose of a special task. They are going to serve a specific function at the tent of meeting, and what is being set up is a rotation schedule. Time commitment is to be shared, with time on, and time off. The principle seems to be one of not overburdening the people. Moreover, the ones who are to be tallied and assigned duties, are to be only between the ages of 30 years old and 50 years old.  

Clearly, not just the time requirements have been considered, but the life circumstances of the Gershonites have also come into play. If they are too young, family constraints of young children would make time away too great a strain on the family. And at the age of 50, in those days, one might be a lot older than 50 seems now. The physical demands of the shlepping might be too much. So it seems that there was a mandated retirement age. Even in service to the Divine, there was the reality of human existence. 

What are we to make of all of this in our day and age? The Torah is giving us an example of how to treat each other. We are not to be seen as two dimensional entities, or only a resource to be used. In our interactions with each other, there is a need to consider more than just our own needs. We are being shown that others have needs, demands on their lives, that need to be taken into account. We dare not see others only in terms of what value they can provide to us. That takes the idea of census literally, and turns human beings into just a bunch of numbers. 

We are each much more than that. We each, as part of a community, have the ability to wield world altering power.

When we wish each other Shabbat Shalom, a Sabbath of Completeness, we should also be affirming that we see the other as not just a statistic, but as a whole human being, worthy of our attention and our caring.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Marv

Ilan Davidson


Cantor Ilan Davidson has been pleasing audiences with his singing since before he could read. At age five, he began singing with his Cantor, Philip Moddel, and hasn’t shut up since. At ten, he made his Operatic debut with the Fullerton Civic Light Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen, as a street urchin. Since then, he has performed roles in opera and musical theatre, performing, directing, and producing world-class productions.

Among his many accomplishments, Cantor Davidson is also known as a contemporary Jewish songwriter and performer, having delighted audiences all over the world, including Israel and Lithuania with the soulful sounds of his music. His recordings, Stained Glass (1995) and In A Hanukkah Mood (2007) are collections of original and covered songs by himself and many contemporary Jewish artists. His most recent recording, God Is In This Place (2020), is a collection of original liturgical pieces for the Friday night Shabbat Service, commissioned and written in honor of his 25th Anniversary as the Cantor of Temple Beth El.

Cantor Davidson left the stage and in 1995 joined the Temple Beth El family, in San Pedro, where, in his nearly 30 years of service, he has brought many new programs and much enthusiasm to all he does. Coming from a long line of Cantors, it must have been Besheret for Cantor Davidson, although talented in all areas of musical performance, to finally settle down into his career as Hazzan for Temple Beth El in San Pedro, California. In 2007, Cantor Davidson founded a new foundation, KindredSPIRITS, producing an annual world humanitarian aid event. KindredSPIRITS premiered on June 5, 2008 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, adding that prestigious concert hall to the ever growing list of venues around the world, where Davidson has performed. During the 10 years of humanitarian events, Global KindredSPIRITS, Inc., as an official 501©3, raised awareness and close to $500,000 for its beneficiaries over the decade.
As a past president of the South Coast Interfaith Council, Ilan fought for tolerance and understanding of ALL faiths in a difficult climate. For the past 7 years, Cantor Davidson has been service as an LA County Commissioner, representing the 4th District on the Human Relations Commission, where he currently serves as President. Whether it is raising his voice for justice, Hazzanut, Pop, Opera, Musical Theatre, or folk music, Cantor Ilan Davidson shares his soul and genuine love in every note.

When asked about his finest accomplishment, Cantor Ilan invariably responds, “After all the great concerts, services, and roles, my finest role in life is that of husband to my beautiful wife, Jodi, and daddy to my gorgeous daughters, Jordan and Zoe.”

Office: (310) 833-2467 Ext. 106

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