Shabbat Shalom: Love, Light, and Peace

Jun 6, 2024 | Article

By: Rolando Kahn
Director of Communications

After departing Egypt and leaving slavery behind them, the Israelites find themselves in the desert. As they continue their trek through the sands, G*d tells Moses it’s time to count all the male Israelites over twenty years old, except for the Levites, who have been specifically instructed to care for the Tabernacle throughout the journey to the promised land. A census taker is assigned to each area of the camp and slowly but surely, tribes begin to emerge from the greater group of people who originally made the Exodus from Egypt (the Twelve Tribes of Israel).

When I think of this chapter in the story of the Israelites, I think of the Levites, who right off the bat knew exactly what their role within the greater community was, and I also ponder how it must’ve felt to be the rest of the large swathe of former slaves. Some of the Israelites must’ve thought: “Why haven’t I been given a role? What should I be doing as we wander the desert in search of our Promised Land?” As I dive deeper into this thought, it occurs to me that many of the Israelites are both literally and figuratively in the “in-between”. They are no longer slaves, but they have not yet accomplished self-actualization at their destination. Everyone has been plunged into this grey area (or in this case, beige) where they are impatiently waiting to see what comes next for them, while simultaneously questioning their decision to follow Moses through the parted sea and into the desert.

With all of this in mind, I think of the multiple times throughout my life where I have questioned a decision I have made, and wondered whether it was the right one, and what the result of this choice will be. Further, I get annoyed by those who appear to have it all together, and who seem to know exactly what their purpose in life is. Jealousy and insecurity loom over me in these moments.

But then, I remember, even if you do know what you’re supposed to be doing, you may not always know exactly how to get it done. Whether they wanted to admit it or not, I’m sure some of the Levites took on the assignment of caring for the Tabernacle with some degree of apprehension, praying that they did things correctly, lest they meet an unwitting end due to a careless misstep. The same holds true for all of us. We are not always told exactly what our role in this world is, and even when we know what is to be done, the how can remain unseen.

As I wander my own figurative desert in search of the meaning of my life, I must understand that being here is not necessarily a bad thing; it has its advantages. Here in the deep sands, I am free to think about who I want to be, what I love to do, and even worry and whine about the uncertainty of my own future. I can discover a community I never knew was right in front of me, count myself among them, and we can all drift together. I must embrace the “in-between,” and keep the faith that love, light, and peace wait for me at the end of my journey.

Shabbat Shalom,

Please email Rolando Kahn at with questions or comments.