For the week ending 5 June 2004 / 16 Sivan 5764

Parshat Beha'alotcha

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Aharon is taught the method for kindling the menorah. Moshe sanctifies the levi'im to work in the Mishkan. They replace the firstborn, who were disqualified after sinning at the golden calf. The levi'im are commanded that after five years of training they are to serve in the Mishkan from ages 30 to 50; afterwards they are to engage in less strenuous work. One year after the Exodus from Egypt, G-d commands Moshe concerning the korban Pesach. Those ineligible for this offering request a remedy, and the mitzvah of Pesach Sheini, allowing a "second chance" to offer the korban Pesach one month later, is detailed. Miraculous clouds that hover near the Mishkan signal when to travel and when to camp. Two silver trumpets summon the princes or the entire nation for announcements. The trumpets also signal travel plans, war or festivals. The order in which the tribes march is specified. Moshe invites his father-in-law, Yitro, to join the Jewish People, but Yitro returns to Midian. At the instigation of the eruv rav the mixed Egyptian multitude who joined the Jewish People in the Exodus some people complain about the manna. Moshe protests that he is unable to govern the nation alone. G-d tells him to select 70 elders, the first Sanhedrin, to assist him, and informs him that the people will be given meat until they will be sickened by it. Two candidates for the group of elders prophesy beyond their mandate, foretelling that Yehoshua instead of Moshe will bring the people to Canaan. Some protest, including Yehoshua, but Moshe is pleased that others have become prophets. G-d sends an incessant supply of quail for those who complained that they lacked meat. A plague punishes those who complained. Miriam tries to make a constructive remark to Aharon which also implies that Moshe is only like other prophets. G-d explains that Moshe's prophecy is superior to that of any other prophet, and punishes Miriam with tzara'at as if she had gossiped about her brother. (Because Miriam is so righteous, she is held to an incredibly high standard). Moshe prays for her, and the nation waits until she is cured before traveling.



"When you sound the second teruah" (10:6)

Im not a great fan of ball games.

It always mystified me why they engender such emotion and devotion. One thing is for sure though, the experience of being in a crowd of 50,000 people who have just witnessed a winning goal/pitch/run (please supply appropriate favorite game) is an awe-inspiring experience.

Sound and emotion are very closely linked. When we feel great emotion we are likely to let out a great cry or whoop, depending on the occasion. And the reverse is also true. A great and loud sound stirs us emotionally. It reaches both beyond and beneath the conscious mind.

The question is what do you get excited about? What makes you shout and scream?

This weeks Torah portion speaks of the teruah, a loud blast of a trumpet. The teruah was used to gather people together for public proclamations, in times of war, or for the festivals. It was used to awaken people to pray at times of national distress. In our times, every day for a month before Rosh Hashana we blow the shofar to awaken ourselves from the slumber of self-complacency and re-dedicate our lives to spirituality.

In the Holy Temple, the kohanim would hold lotteries for the different types of service of that day. The lottery would be announced and the kohanim would rush to the location of the forthcoming lottery. This sudden frenzy would cause quite a disturbance. The question arises: Why didnt they do all the lotteries at the same time and minimize the disturbance? The answer is that they wanted the disturbance. The service of G-d demands disturbance! We need to disturb the humdrum of our lives and make a big noise about serving G-d.

When those incorporeal spiritual beings that English translates, erroneously, as "angels" praise the greatness of G-d, they do so with a "mighty tumultuous sound." It doesnt say that they praise G-d with sound, or even a tumultuous sound; it says a "mighty tumultuous sound." When it comes to G-d, there must be a great tumult, for that demonstrates that the only thing thats worth getting excited about is G-d.

When we feel joy, we should shout to G-d. Whats the point of having a band at a wedding and all that noise? To show that we are going wild over the greatness of G-d!

Shout to G-d when you have good health! And shout to Him when you need a cure! Pour out you heart to G-d! When we say Shema Yisrael, when we proclaim His Oneness, shout it out loud!

The more excited we get about G-d, the more we shout, the more we will come to know Him in our lives and in our hearts.

  • Source: based on Rabbi Avigdor Miller

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