Parasha Bamidbar

"The Triple Crown"

The title jumped out at me instantly.  As soon as one sees The Triple Crown this week, horse racing comes to mind.  I wondered how the writer could tie this week'sparsha Bamidbar to horse racing?  It did not take long to find out.

In the very first verse we are told "...the Lord spoke to Moses in the wildernessof Sinai..."  A well known Midrash spells out that the Torah was given in association with three things (or crowns)-fire, water, and in the wilderness.  Rabbi Meir Shapiro (1887-1933), known as the Lubliner Rav, brings out that the thing that has distinguished the Jewish people from the days "in the wilderness" is the spirit of self-sacrifice.

What is he referring to?  Abraham allowed himself to be thrown into a fiery furnace for breaking his father's idols, and it was only by a miracle that he was saved.  We learn, or we see, the strength that so may have exhibited over the centuries to-die for their Judaism.  Some pundits respond this was simply an individual act of a great individual.

The example of the water involves the entire Jewish people.  It is not too hard to recall the entire nation entering the raging waters of the Nile on God's command.  Finally we see the entire Jewish nation entering the "wilderness" without food or drink not knowing how long they would be there.  As they embarked, the only thing they had was their love for and loyalty to God.

Rabbi Shapiro in his responsa on the Midrashbrings out that it was by virture of these three tests -- fire, water, and wilderness -- that the Torah was given to the Jewish people as their eternal possession and somehow ensured the survival of our people to this very day.  It pales by comparison to the crown of three horse races, but it did entice me to delve into it and invigorated me.


Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham