For the week ending 25 June 2016 / 19 Sivan 5776

Parshat Beha'alotcha

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Editor's note: This week Beha'alotcha is read in Israel and Nasso is read outside of Israel


Aharon is taught the method for kindling the Menorah. Moshe sanctifies the levi'im to work in the Mishkan. They replace the first-born, 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.



“...And Aharon did thus” (8:3)

At the beginning of time there shone a unique light called the “Ohr Haganuz”, the Hidden Light. With this light you could see from one end of the Creation to the other. It wasn’t that the light was super bright, but you could see the connection between cause and effect.

We live in a world of darkness where events can sometimes seem random and cruel. This is because that light was hidden. Even though the Creator hid away the Ohr Haganuz after it had shone for thirty-six hours, there are times when you can still catch glimpses of its hidden glow...

On the first night of Chanukah we light one candle; on the second night two. Thus after two nights we have lit three candles. If you continue this calculation you will find that the total number of candles that we light on Chanukah is thirty-six. The thirty-six lights of Chanukah correspond to the thirty-six hours during which the Ohr Haganuz shined.

“...and Aharon did thus.”

Rashi comments: “This verse recounts the praise of Aharon, for he did not change.”

If you look at the Genesis account, the phrase “And it was thus” is appended to every creation that the Torah speaks of. Every creation, that is, except one. When the Torah says “Let there be light!” the phrase “And it was thus” is missing. The reason is because G-d hid away that original light.

It re-appears in the light of the Chanukah candles.

And it re-appears in the light of the Menorah.

When Aharon lit the Menorah, he caused a tikkun in the world, a spiritual repair that brought back the light to its original pristine state. Aharon’s lighting brought forth a light that “did not change” from the radiance of the Ohr Haganuz.

When the Torah says, “And Aharon did thus,” the ‘thus’ is referring to Aharon returning the light to its state of “And it was thus.”

  • Sources: Amodea Sheva; Malbim

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