Torah Weekly - Parshat Behalotcha
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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, 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.
MEET A WELL-KNOWN CELEBRITY
"And whenever the cloud was lifted from upon the Tent, afterwards the Children of Israel would journey..." (9:17)
Early in the morning, our household is frequently the scene of a major war.
There are no mortars in the bedrooms. No sappers are seen defusing booby-trapped dollies. There are no tanks riding over the bunk beds, but a major war is ensuing never the less.
"Keep your head down! Dont you know its dangerous to get up and daven! Youre much better safe here in bed."
The war Im talking about is with a well-known celebrity. He appears all the time on the media. Hes a master of disguise. Hes an incredibly talented impersonator. He can appear as almost anyone: A knight in shining armor; a deeply sympathetic friend; or as a blood-thirsty murderer and a heartless serial killer. We all know his name. Give him a big welcome please! Heeeeeeeeres Mr. Yetzer Hara!
The Chafetz Chaim awoke one morning at his customarily early hour. He was already advanced in years. As he was about to summon up the strength to arise, our celebrity Mr. Y. Hara, the evil inclination, whispered in his ear, "Reb Yisrael Meir, you are a holy Jew! All your life, you have risen with alacrity to praise your Maker. Youre old now, why dont you just take another five minutes in bed? Five minutes isnt going to kill anyone. Stay in bed. Its still early." Replied the Chafetz Chaim, "If youre up already, it cant be so early."
When the Jewish People camped in the desert, a cloud covered the Tabernacle by day. At night, it had a fiery appearance. When the cloud lifted above the tent, it first moved to the camp of Yehuda and hovered there in a beam-like formation. The trumpets would then sound in the camp. Moshe would say "Arise, Hashem, and let Your foes be scattered, let those who hate You flee from before You!" (9:22) The Jewish People would then start to journey. Sometimes they stayed a long time at a place they found inhospitable. Sometimes, having journeyed for weeks, wearily, they would leave after camping for only a couple of days. Sometimes, they stayed for only one night. Or, they would march all night, and after twenty four hours rest they would see the cloud settle on the Tabernacle; assuming that they were staying for a while, they would start to unpack. Then, without warning, the cloud would suddenly lift and they would have to re-pack everything. At other times they would be summoned to travel at night, which was even more difficult seeing as flashlights were extremely difficult to come by in the Sinai desert 3000 years ago.
But whatever happened, and whatever demands were made of the Jewish People, they marched and rested without complaint, according to G-ds word.
I dont know about you, but on the day that I take delivery of a new car, I have no problem springing out of bed. On a regular day, somehow its much more difficult.
Maybe if we keep in mind that every day when we get up to do what G-d wants, were going to get something a lot nicer than a new car, it will be much easier to turn off the voice of our frequent guest celebrity Mr. Y. Hara.
Reflecting the opening theme of Parshat Behaalotcha, the haftara describes a vision of the menorah that Aharon lit in his service as kohen gadol, high priest. The Prophet Zachariah 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) ."
With a Flourish
"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 vanished into nothingness, nevertheless, the root is still living, hidden and dormant. At the appropriate moment, mashiach will appear, like a majestic tree flourishing from barren ground, laden with fruit, revealed to all.
Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
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