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Living with the Parshah: Beefeater

Living with the Parshah: Beefeater

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Sara stood listening quietly as her history teacher spoke; her class was on a tour to see the historical sites of London about which they had been learning.

“See those men in the blue clothes?” she said, pointing to a Beefeater.

The girls were nodding, they had all written reports about different parts of the Tower of London, and they all knew that the men in blue clothes with red edging were called “Beefeaters”. They also knew that Beefeaters also had red uniforms with gold edging for special occasions.

“The Beefeaters are also called the Yeoman Warders,” said the teacher. Most girls hadn’t known about that name before.

“A Yeoman is a kind of soldier,” the teacher continued, trying to help her pupils make sense of this new name.

Sara’s mind was wandering. She had heard about something else that week, which also had two names. She was thinking hard trying to remember.

“So they are known either as Yeoman Warders or as Beefeaters,” her teacher was saying.

Suddenly it came to Sara, like a waking dream, a vision. She could see herself, standing there so many years ago. She wasn’t at the Tower of London. She was with her class, like today, but more than them, many, many more. She stood with the entire Jewish people. Everyone around her was excited, they knew that soon, in a few months, not too long, they would enter the Holy Land.

There was Moses speaking to the people, they were standing together in a place called “the Far Side of the Jordan,” it was on the east bank of the River Jordan which flows North to South at the eastern side of Israel. He was giving a talk to them, as he did very often, preparing them to enter the Land of Israel.

Where were they? The Far Side of the Jordan? That was the point. There were two names for the place where they were. In the end of the fourth Book of the Torah, Numbers, the place they were all standing was called “The plains of Moab.”

“Although,” her teacher’s words came back into hearing, bringing her back to the Beefeaters,“ no one is certain why they are called that. Some people say it is from the French word ‘buffetier.'”

Sara mind drifted back to the desert, where she was standing in a place which also had two names.

Her teacher had explained that the fourth book of Numbers was describing the time the Jewish people spent in the desert, therefore that place was called “the plains of Moab” connecting it to a landmark in the desert, outside the Holy Land.

The fifth book however, Deuteronomy, was describing the Jewish people as they were about to move on to a new stage of going into the Land of Israel. Therefore that same place was referred to as “the Far Side of the Jordan” connecting it to the Land of Israel. They called the place by the name it would have when they would be living in Israel, as soon they would be.

The teacher had said this also shows how we should look at today’s day and age, both a time of exile and also standing on the threshold of Redemption.

“The Yeoman Warders look after the Tower…” her teacher was saying as they started to walk towards the gate.

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Zalmy Engel Adelaide, Australia July 22, 2012

Yasher Koach, Rebbi! Yasher Ko'ach, Rebbi!
Great article! Very kid-friendly, for it is written in the form of a typical young kid's story. Reply

Roger Steele Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada July 14, 2010

Chabad Although not a Jew I thank G-D for being able to learn about the Jewish faith. What a deep respect I have for all Jews and what a great deal of knowledge I am gaining from Chabad.org
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and please keep up the great work you are doing. Reply

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