What is community? What does it mean to us? Over the past year, we have all been forced to think about what community means and how we make a place for it in our lives, even when circumstances change.
Our Parsha also features two definitions of community which we can apply in our lives. The first one is that the Jews are all together. On Hashem's orders, Moshe counts the Jews, because they are all members of the community. The act of counting them is a powerful assertion that each and everyone matters. It is a powerful assertion that the fact of all the people of Israel being physically together is important. However, there is another definition of community that we see.
Later on, the Torah describes the religious observances of the holidays, and these too form a crucial part of Jewish community. It is not enough for us to just come together. Jewish community is not about navel-gazing, it's not about us all just looking at each other and feeling good about that. It's much more about us all looking forward, in the same direction. It's about us sharing a vision, working to fulfil that vision, and making the world a better place. It's about the practice of ethical monotheism, of service to the one G-d, and how we can show the world the beauty of that message.
The past year has made us all think again about what community means to us, and about our place in the community. It is at just such a time that we can look to the Torah for inspiration and come together in new ways, inspired by the old, learning from the traditions we have received. Let's all find our place and let's all turn our community into what we believe it ought to be.