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This week's 10-Minute Torah (May 29, 2021): "Parashat Beha'alotcha 5781

Parashat Beha'alotcha / פרשת בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ

Read on 29 May 2021 (18 Sivan 5781).

Parashat Beha'alotcha is the 36th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Torah Portion: Numbers 8:1-12:16

This portion starts out discussing the daily lighting of the Menorah. Then Aaron is told to consecrate the Levites to the service of Hashem. Every first-born is consecrated to Hashem and Hashem takes the Levites in place of the first born for His service. A Levite will apprentice in the Temple at age twenty-five for five years and serve from ages thirty to fifty.

The Children of Israel are then commanded to observe the Pesach offering each year on the fifteenth day of the first month (Nissan). For those who either were contaminated by a corpse or were out on the road during that time, they can observe Pesach Sheni, a month later. This is observed only for one day.

When the Tabernacle rested during the day a cloud would cover it. There would be a pillar of fire at night. The cloud would be lifted when they traveled.

Moses was commanded to make two silver trumpets. Different sounds were used to muster the Children of Israel, to journey, to rest, or to wage war. They were also used to proclaim festivals and the New Month. Moses invites his father-in-law Jethro (also known as Hobab) to join them.

Chapter 10, verses 35 and 36 form what some consider a separate book. We recite these words during our Shabbat Torah service:

׆ וַיְהִ֛י בִּנְסֹ֥עַ הָאָרֹ֖ן וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֑ה קוּמָ֣ה ׀ יְהֹוָ֗ה וְיָפֻ֙צוּ֙ אֹֽיְבֶ֔יךָ וְיָנֻ֥סוּ מְשַׂנְאֶ֖יךָ מִפָּנֶֽיךָ׃

וּבְנֻחֹ֖ה יֹאמַ֑ר שׁוּבָ֣ה יְהֹוָ֔ה רִֽבְב֖וֹת אַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ ׆ {פ}

"When the Ark was to set out, Moses would say: Advance, O LORD! May Your enemies be scattered, And may Your foes flee before You! And when it halted, he would say: Return, O LORD, You who are Israel’s myriads of thousands!"

The people start complaining. They grew tired of just eating manna and the rabble among them (the mixed multitude that accompanied the Children of Israel) incited dissatisfaction by longing for what they said was the meat and fish they were fed in Egypt.

Moses despairs and Hashem tells him to gather seventy elders (who would become the Sanhedrin, the highest court) to bear the burden of the complaints. G-d then tells Moses he will feed the people meat for a month. Hashem provided quail and Hashem then struck down the instigators of the complaint.

Miriam and Aaron were concerned that Moses was not paying attention to his wife, Zipporah, as a husband should. They confronted him. Miriam came down with tza’arat for gossiping and intruding into Moses’ relationship. However, she quickly recovered and that demonstrated that even prophets and leaders are not above the commandments.

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