Over the course of the next week the school will be celebrating multiple graduation/year-end ceremonies. I have often considered the significance of these graduations. Are they just a rite of passage – I graduate eighth grade and go to high school? In the outside world, graduation is a culmination of something never to return to, but for us it is the culmination of one stage in life to another, more elevated, stage. Another aspect of graduation is to analyze not only what I personally gained to achieve this status but more what we as a class have accomplished. When I look at this year’s eighth grade and senior class I think of achdus and caring for each other. For many graduating classes, this year is a trying one, as, regardless of the type of Zoom celebration, the class is not together. Our senior class this year met virtually and decided that it would be worth changing the date or delaying graduation until all the seniors could be together. This kind of achdus is indicative of the nature of the class.
I would like to share with you the summary of an article that I read from my friend Rabbi Motti Kamenetzky that illustrates this point of caring for one another:
- Sweet memories do not fade fast. And neither do pungent ones. The Jewish nation complained bitterly about the mon, a miraculous treat sent daily from Heaven to sustain a nation of more than two million people in a barren desert. It was shaped like coriander seed, shone like crystal, and had a miraculous property: it would assume the flavor of any cuisine that its consumer would think about! If a person wanted steak, it tasted like steak. Yet, although the mon had the miraculous ability to transform into a variety of delicacies, it could not assume the taste of onions, garlic, and a variety of gourds, as they are not the best foods for nursing mothers. And if a pregnant or nursing mother would think of the pungent flavors of those foods, it would, perhaps, cause harm to the child.
And thus the men complained, “We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt – and the gourds and onions and garlic! But now there is nothing – we look forward to nothing but the mon!” (Bamidbar: 11:5–6).
An obvious question is then, why didn’t Hashem let the mon discern, allowing the garlic taste to manifest itself only for the men and women whom it would not affect, and not for the women who were with child, whose babies would be harmed by the pungent aroma?
An answer to this good question is that although the mon fell with inherent qualities and had the potential to explode with a bounty of delicious flavors, for the sake of ,em>achdus Hashem decided that it would not be fair to limit the mon’s pleasures to a portion of the people. If expectant and nursing women could not partake of certain foods, their spouses and the entire nation had to share the restrictions too.
And though there may be no great pain in abstaining from onion and garlic for a while, it is important to find commonality even in life’s little inconveniences. Because true sharing is feeling the pain of even the minutest discomforts. It is a lesson that Klal Yisroel had to learn as they trekked together in the desert, striving to become one large unit. They learned to unite by joining together while missing out on some of the spices of life. Because the nation that blends together – bands together!
This lesson of achdus is one learned well by this graduating class and is certain to elevate them to their next stage in Jewish life. We wish them and their families a hearty mazel tov on their graduation and look forward to seeing their great accomplishments in life.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman