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    The progress of our lives – B’midbar

    Five times a year we start a new book of the Chumash. Today it is B’midbar. It marks the progress of the year and enables us to measure how far we have moved towards Rosh HaShanah.

    Metaphorically, it marks the progress of our lives. We go through five stages.

    First is birth, when we are ushered into the world with such love and pride, though a baby is not yet aware of what is going on.

    Stage two is childhood when we discover new things every day and even – tragically – find that not every grown-up can be trusted.

    The third stage is young adulthood when we have the vision and energy to start fixing up the world.

    The fourth (the longest) stage is full adulthood, when life brings burdens and responsibilities, and decisions have to be made every moment.

    Finally comes old age (which generally lasts longer than it used to) when we have two choices, being cynical and wondering if it was all worthwhile – or being happy that we can see the beauties of the world and reluctantly accept that it won’t be for ever.

    Pir’kei Avot has a list at the end of Chapter 5. Shakespeare has a list too. Whichever list you prefer, please welcome every new stage as you welcome each Book of the Torah, and prove to God that you have earned the blessing of life which came from Him.

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