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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

06/15/2023 05:00:49 PM


Rabbi Josh Whinston

In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, there is a beautiful image of Aaron’s staff sprouting almond blossoms. The stick he’s been using for support miraculously shows signs of life, and those blossoms even turn into almonds. In the context of the Torah portion, the almonds are a sign of God’s choosing Aaron as the religious leader of the Israelites in the face of rebellion from some other Israelites. However, I can relate personally to this image. After 14 years in the rabbinate, writing sermons, preparing Torah study, and developing programs, I have been blessed with time for growth and renewal. I took the first half of my sabbatical this winter, spending most of my time in Israel. My family and I traveled and explored. I studied Talmud and took Hebrew classes. I split the sabbatical to be present for this year’s B’nei Mitzvah class and only missed one service while I was away. Next week begins the second half of my sabbatical, and it will look very different. I have some travel planned, spending time with my parents in San Diego and camping in Canada, and I’ll be heading to Maine for a bit. I am also taking a few classes and working online with a Hebrew tutor. My main concern, however, is rejuvenation. After the darkest years of covid, this sabbatical rest is much needed. While I am not quite a dried-up walking staff, I know the feeling of hitting my head against the ground and standing in support of others. I don’t promise almonds upon my return, but I am certainly in search of them.

Tue, December 5 2023 22 Kislev 5784