The number ten is a very significant number in Judaism. Of course the first thing that comes to mind is The Aserot HaDebrot/The Ten Commandments, which Moshe Rabbenu received at the revelation at Mount Sinai.
The number ten has additional significance. In the Mishna, in the fifth chapter of Pirkey Avot, the rabbis compile a list of important number tens.
The fifth chapter of Pirkey Avot teaches that G-d created the world through ten utterances (this is also taught in the Zohar on Parshat Shemot), that there were ten generations from Adam to Noah, and that there were ten generations from Noah to Abraham. It goes on to tell us that Abraham was tested ten times by G-d (we will read about two of those tests on Rosh Hashanah: G-d tells Abraham to allow Sarah to exile Hagar and Ishmael and G-d orders Abraham to sacrifice Isaac). The Mishna states that not only were ten miraculous plagues visited upon the Egyptians for the sake of Israel while the Israelites were in Egypt but that G-d also hit the Egyptians with ten additional miraculous plagues at the splitting of the Red Sea! The Mishna quotes Bamidbar/Numbers 14:22, where it is written that the Israelites tested G-d’s patience ten times while in the wilderness (Jews are still testing G-d’s patience). In 5:7 of the same Mishna it goes on to list ten miracles that were performed in the Beit Hamikdash/Holy Temple. Lastly, the Mishna lists ten things that were created on the eve of the first ever Shabbat, the Shabbat of creation.
The number ten has a very special personal meaning for me as I have now been the rabbi of Bellerose Jewish Center for ten years. These years have moved swiftly. Many changes have occurred over these years. When I arrived, BJC was not yet egalitarian. I instituted full equality for the women members during our first Simchat Torah together. In my second year, we adopted the use of the modern Sim Shalom siddur, which allowed for comprehensible English readings and a more understandable service. Eventually our service became more streamlined and content focused. We took on the practice of reading the Torah on the triennial schedule. Many other changes were instituted over the years that have helped us to adapt to ever-changing needs and to keep our services and activities relevant and enjoyable.
Today, years later, we meet in a new sanctuary that is appropriate for our current needs. Our congregation and the Jewish community have changed. We’re older and smaller in number. The demographics of the area have radically changed. We are in the process of discussing the future of Bellerose Jewish Center. I am optimistic and confident that we will continue to adapt and thrive as we successfully meet the challenges ahead of us.
Over these ten years, I have been honored to share in your greatest simchas and have been there to comfort you and help you cope in times of illness, loss, and tragedy. After ten years, BJC is more than my congregation, it has become my family.
This year we’ll be observing our eleventh Yommim Narayim/High Holidays together as together we begin the next decade. Let us all pray for the help of the Ribono Shel Olam in going forward with success into our future this year.
Wishing us all a tremendous L’Shana Tova U’Matookah/an incredibly Sweet New Year at 10x strength!
[The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Bellerose Jewish Center.]