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'imare 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.
A Free Lunch
Or as they say in Yiddish "Nothing is for nothing." And yet human nature has a marvelous ability to conjure the proverbial free lunch out of hefty tab.
For a while now, my son has been trying to convince me to invest in about 50 boxes of a certain brand of cereal so that we can be sure of getting a FREE plastic space station. (Of course, he contends that a space station is pretty much de rigeur for the average Orthodox Jewish family living in Jerusalem, a notion of which I am not totally convinced.)
The Ibn Ezra says that fish was so plentiful in Egypt that it was virtually free. The Ramban says that in addition to fish, the Jewish People received fruit and vegetables in abundance from the farmers.
But was it really so free? It seems to me that being a slave is a pretty hefty price tag no matter how much free fish and veggies there is on offer.
And let us not think that FREE OFFER myopia only affects small Jerusalem children. If we honestly analyze many of our decisions we may realize how many things we do because we have convinced ourselves that we are getting a free lunch.
In life everything has a price. The trick is to know what the price really is.