“We are ritually unclean, why should we be excluded… so as not to bring the offering of the Lord in its appointed time, with all the children of Israel?” Numbers 9:7


Every cause needs a mantra and every successful campaign is associated with a good slogan. In the 1700s, the French revolted against tyranny under the banner "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity". The year 1863 saw the United States Army conquer the province of Texas rallying behind the cry "Remember the Alamo", and this past winter nations united in the aftermath of those gruesome killings in Paris under the chant "Je suis Charlie". Mantras and slogans are great. They are positive affirmations and infuse the exclaimer with hope and optimism. Each of us would do well to have in our back pocket a few such personal refrains to call on when we need a boost of courage and determination. In this week's Torah portion, we find my own personal favourite mantra.

The Jewish nation was entering its second year of wandering through the wilderness on the way to Israel and Passover with its obligatory paschal lamb offering approaching. A select group from the Jewish nation who were ritually impure could not partake in the animal sacrifice. Rather than claim defeat, they approached Moses and argued fervently that they too yearned to connect with God and would not accept that their personal circumstances should deprive them. Amazingly, God heard their words, understood their fierce resolve and created a new festival called Pesach Sheni, the second Passover, so they too would get their chance to offer a sacrifice. So many times in my own Jewish journey, I have confronted obstacles but rather than despair I have used that ancient mantra of our people "Why should we be excluded?", knowing God will always listen to such a sincere cry, and I have found courage to persevere.

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