Torah Weekly - Parshat Beha'alotcha

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Parshat Beha'alotcha

Outside Israel for the week ending June 24, 2000 / 21 Sivan 5760
In Israel for the week ending June 17, 2000 / 14 Sivan 5760

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  • Staying Lit
  • Make Space
  • Cashing In
  • Blazing the Trail
  • Haftara
  • With a Flourish
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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 through 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, Hashem 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. Hashem 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. Hashem 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. Hashem 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.




    "Aharon did so;" (8:3)

    "This teaches the praise of Aharon -- that he did not change" (Sifri).

    You pick up your new car from the dealer, and settle yourself behind the ergonomic dash, the smell of "new car" wafting across your nostrils, more delectable than any French perfume. The engine purrs as you ease your way in to light traffic along the coast. "This car is great!" you think to yourself, "It's the most exciting thing in the world!"

    Two months later, someone sees you and says, "Great new car!" You reply, "Yeah, I guess so. Actually it's not so new anymore..."

    If familiarity doesn't exactly breed contempt, at least it fosters boredom and complacency. Yet at the end of his life, Aharon was still lighting the menorah with exactly the same degree of constancy and enthusiasm with which he lit it on his first day. "This teaches the praise of Aharon -- that he did not change."


    "And the man Moshe was more humble than anyone on the face of the earth." (12:3).

    The thinner the walls of a container, the less they intrude into the space inside the container, and thus the greater its capacity. Moshe made himself like the skin of a garlic clove -- virtually without substance -- the absolute minimum for him to still exist in this world. Thus, he was almost completely a "containing space."

    It is for this reason that he was able to receive and contain the Torah in its perfection. In truth, if there were anyone today who would reach his level of humility, that person too would receive the Torah in all its completeness, like Moshe.

    Adapted from Ruach Chaim


    "And the man Moshe was more humble than anyone on the face of the earth." (12:3)

    Our Sages warn against haughtiness, more than any other character defect. "Be very, very humble," they teach us. What makes haughtiness and status-seeking so mortally dangerous?

    A person cannot receive the true reward for a mitzvah in this world; since a mitzvah is spiritual, it is impossible for its reward to be given in a world which is physical. However, if a person derives status and honor from doing a mitzvah, even though this honor is illusory, he has nevertheless received a kind of recompense, since status and honor are felt as "spiritual" entities. Thus, by deriving a surrogate benefit from the counterfeit currency of honor in this world, a person can arrive at the First National Bank of Olam Habah, the World to Come, and find that he exchanged his priceless diamonds -- the eternal reward for his mitzvot -- for Monopoly money.

    Based on the Chafetz Chaim


    "Speak to Aharon and say to him that when he makes the flame of the menorah go up..." (8:2).

    There are two ways to light a candle. One can touch a flame directly to the wick, or one can hold the flame away from the wick until it spontaneously bursts into flames because of the extreme heat.

    There are two ways to teach Torah and pass the tradition down to the next generation. We can force our children to study Torah and perform mitzvot, or we can let them see our passion for mitzvot and Torah. We can use every educational technique available to inspire them until their own personal interest in Torah and mitzvot is ignited. To symbolize this lesson Aharon is told specifically to light the menorah in the latter manner because the menorah symbolizes the Oral Torah -- the personal transferal of Hashem's Word.

    Rabbi Yerucham Uziel Milevsky


    Zacharia 2:14 - 4:17


    Reflecting the opening theme of Parshat Beha'alotcha, the haftara describes a vision of the menorah lit by the kohen gadol, the high priest. The Prophet Zacharia assures the Jewish People that even during the Messianic era when the entire world will recognize Hashem and evil will be eliminated, the Jewish People will still play an important role. There will be a need for Jewish leadership and education, and the Jews will be a light for all nations. The menorah symbolizes this role of spiritual illumination.

    The Prophet conveys a message which those religions that are offshoots of Judaism have too often ignored: "Not by military force, and not by physical strength, but by My Spirit alone (4:6)..."


    "Behold, I am bringing my servant, the Flourishing One." (3:8)

    Why is mashiach referred to as the "flourishing one?" Even though today it seems that all remnant of the majesty of the Royal House of David has been uprooted and has vanished into nothingness, nevertheless, the root is still living, hidden and dormant. At the appropriate moment, the mashiach will appear, like a majestic tree flourishing from barren ground, laden with fruit, revealed to all.


    Love of the Land
    Selections from classical Torah sources
    which express the special relationship between
    the People of Israel and Eretz Yisrael


    The most sacred part of the Beit Hamikdash was located in the portion of Eretz Israel belonging to the Tribe of Binyamin (Mesechta Yoma 12a).

    Why, ask our Sages (Mechilta Yitro 4:18), did Binyamin merit to be the host of the Divine Presence? Because only he, of all the sons of Yaakov, was born in Eretz Israel.

    When his fellow Jews challenged Mordechai on his endangering their security by refusing to bow to Haman, he responded that it was below his dignity to bow to any mortal, even one as politically powerful as Haman, because of the royal status he enjoyed as the descendant of Binyamin who was born in Eretz Israel. (Midrash Rabbah Esther 7:8)

    Love of the Land Archives

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Michael Treblow

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