The Power of Shabbat
Parshat Bamidbar (literally in the desert) is read on the Shabbat before Shavuot for a number of reasons:

According to Rabbi D. Shoham if a person wants to merit in receiving the Torah, they should make themselves into a desert, meaning that they should act modestly.

Rabbi S. Y. Zevin adds that whoever keeps the Torah has the capability of turning a wilderness into the Garden of Eden.

Sfat Emet comments that on the Shabbat before Shavuot we have to spiritually prepare for Kabbalat HaTorah, accepting the Torah. The mitzvah of Shabbat was given before the Torah was given so that Shabbat could be the first step in the process of receiving the Torah.

Sfat Emet continues that in the Book of Shmot, Parshat BeShalach 16:30 it says ?€?So the people rested on the Seventh day?€. From there they went to Har Sinai (Mt. Sinai). BeShalch 19:2 states ?€?Vayachan-Yisrael camped before the mountain?€. Rashi explains that it says vayachan in the singular as opposed to vayachanu in the plural since at that moment B?€™nai Yisrael were like one person with one heart. The power of Shabbat united them.

People who are returning to religious observance often begin with the observance of Shabbat. Once they have mastered Shabbat observance they are more confident in taking on more of the mitzvoth. We must go out of our way to help those who are striving. We must remember that the Jewish people started their mitzvah observance in the desert, with nothing. Even a newborn baby must celebrate one Shabbat before he takes on the mitzvah of Brit Milah.

In Israel today, where Shabbat observance has become a controversy we must find ways to teach the beauty of Shabbat observance in a positive way as opposed to forcing it on those who have not yet been exposed to what Shabbat is all about. If we can each invite a guest over who has not yet experienced Shabbat we will be taking the first step in accepting the full Torah next week on Shavuot. At a time when the Jewish community is so divided, let?€™s use Shabbat to get reunited.