Parsha Beha’alotcha – 5777

Parshat Beha’alotcha In-Depth

“Aaron did not bring an offering (for the Sanctuary’s dedication—see previous Parshah) with the other princes of the tribes, and so he thought: Woe is me! Perhaps it is on my account that G‑d does not accept the tribe of Levi? G‑d therefore said to Moses: ‘Go and say to Aaron: Fear not, you have in store for you an honor greater than this . . . : the offerings shall remain in force only as long as the Temple stands, but the lamps shall always give light . . .’ (Midrash Rabbah; Rashi)

Were not the lamps of the menorah also extinguished with the destruction of the Holy Temple? But this alludes to the Chanukah lights, which were instituted in the time of the Second Temple by the Hasmoneans, descendents of Aaron, and which did not cease. (Nachmanides)”

Torah Sparks: Beha’alotcha 5777

“The story is told of a young monk who joins a silent monastery. The rules are simple, the abbot tells him. ‘You can speak two words every ten years.’ After ten years the young monk says “Bed hard.” Ten years later, ‘Food bad.’ After 30 years he tells the abbot, “I quit.” The senior monk looks at him and says, ‘I’m not surprised. You’ve been complaining ever since you got here.’ We can pretty safely assume the monk in the story was not Jewish – his first complaint is not about the food.

For me Baha’alotḥa is the saddest parashah in the Torah. It begins gloriously – the Menorah is prepared, the silver trumpets readied for the departure from Sinai, the Fiery Cloud is in place to lead them to the land ‘the Lord spoke of.’ The first ten chapters of Numbers have the air of a new beginning, all running to plan. The Divine plan, according to Rashi (10:29 and 10:32), was to bring them to Israel ‘in three days.'”

If You Missed It the First Time

“Have you ever used one of those apps that counts down to a special event? Whether it is a wedding or a concert, you can check your phone and see how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the big moment of anticipation.

But what happens if the moment comes and you can’t be there?

B’haalot’cha addresses a few reasons why people might not show up and provides a second chance for them.

In Numbers 9:7 some people who cannot offer the Passover sacrifice at its set time approach Moses saying what amounts to, ‘We want to bring a sanctified offering to God. It isn’t fair that we are not allowed to do it.’

They were not allowed because they had been in contact with a corpse, but God answers for anyone who has physical or spiritual limitations that keep them from observing the sacrifice. The answer is that they can still participate, but a month later on a day called Pesach Sheni — the Second Passover.”

Be Careful What You Wish For

“It seems to come from nowhere: a craving—perhaps to devour ice cream, to gossip, to mindlessly watch TV, to have sex, or to make fun of another person. Ah, it’s a long list—all the urges in our lives!

Sudden and strong impulses can be confusing. If what I long for may not itself be bad, then why deny it? Or, if my craving is in fact harmful, why do I feel like doing something I will regret later? On one hand, shouldn’t I celebrate my true feelings? On the other hand, shouldn’t I be ashamed of feeling this way?

A tale in Numbers chapter 11 may put our urges into perspective. There, the Israelites — recently escaped slaves — are on vacation. All their basic needs are met. Free meals. They don’t have to get up each morning and go to work or off to school. Yet the Israelites begin whining about food. They crave meat rather than manna; they yearn for variety in their diet: ‘Our lives are like a desert—there is nothing but this manna to look to!'”

Haftarah Parshat Beha’alotcha

“Zechariah is a prophet who yearns for the universal recognition of God. He is well aware that the world is not perfect and that the situation as it is does not provide the signs and wonders which might bring about the realization of God’s rule in the world. In his vision, he prophesizes the day when this might happen: “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord! For He is aroused (ne’or) from His holy habitation.” (2:17)

The word “ne’or” derives the verb root “ayin vav reish” meaning “to wake up” or “to rise up”. What will wake God up, as it were, that will be recognized by all? The consensus among the medieval commentators is that God will arise to save Israel and bring justice to its enemies. In other words, God’s recognition is conditional on His saving His people from their enemies.”