Torah Weekly

For the week ending 17 June 2006 / 21 Sivan 5766

Parshat Beha'alotcha

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Overview

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.

Insights

Heaven’s Name

“…When you kindle the lamps, the seven lights shall cast light toward the face of the Menorah.”

In the name of Heaven it seems that almost as much blood as rain has soaked the earth.

Self-righteous fanatics from the Spanish Inquisition to Al Quaeda have invoked the name of Heaven to justify their atrocities. The Nazis believed that their obscene horror-show was the Divine Will, and the Catholic Church was right behind them in their acquiescence and not-so-passive complicity. Moslems murder Christians, Hindus murder Moslems, Catholics murder Protestants and Sunnis murder Shiites— and vice versa — all in the name of Heaven.

In 1646, after the Civil War in England, Mathew Hopkins, the self-proclaimed "Witchfinder General" led a terryfiying purge that relied on testimony extorted by means of “ordeal.” This featured torture of the most horrific nature including hot pincers and the thumbscrew.

All in the name of Heaven.

“…When you kindle the lamps, the seven lights shall cast light toward the face of the Menorah.”

Rashi tells us that “The face of the Menorah” means the ner ma’aravi, the middle of the seven lights. The wicks of the three flames on either side of the ner ma’aravi must incline and “cast light” toward this central light. If so, why does the Torah say, “the seven lights shall cast light”? It should say,” the six lights shall cast light toward the face of the Menorah” – the ner ma’aravi.

Six represents the mundane and the workaday. Seven represents Shabbat; Shabbat is not so much the end of the week as the week’s end — its goal and purpose. The six lights pointing toward the central flame teach us to orient all our actions towards the center, towards Heaven.

When the Torah says that all seven lights should cast light on the center, it means that even the center must face the center; it’s all too easy to justify anything and everything “in the name of Heaven.” We must be sure that the things that we do in the name of Heaven should be worthy to bear Heaven’s name.

  • Heard from Rabbi Menachem Goldberger in the name of the Mei Shiloach of the Ishbitzer Rebbe

© 1995-2014 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Torah Weekly

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.