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Beha’alotecha ~ בהעלתך ~ 5774
Aaron is taught the method for kindling the menorah. Moshe sanctifies the Levites to work in the Mishkan. They replace the firstborn, who were disqualified after sinning at the golden calf. The Levites 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 hover near the Mishkan and 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 and 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 elders prophesy beyond their mandate, foretelling that Joshua, instead of Moshe, will bring the people to Israel. Some protest (including Joshua) 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 Aaron which 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.
MAFTIR Numbers 12:14-16 ~ page 619
HAFTARAH Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7 ~ page 620
Zechariah tells the people to rejoice for G-d will dwell once again in Jerusalem’s Temple. In his vision, he sees Joshua, the High Priest, clothed in soiled garments (symbolizing the people’s inequities) and accused by Satan of being unworthy to occupy his office. Joshua is vindicated by G-d, ordered to be clothed in priestly garments and is admonished to observe and teach His Commandments. In a further vision, he is shown a seven branched golden Menorah (as in the opening verses of the Sidra) representing G-d’s vigilance. Above the candlestick is a bowl (containing the oil supplying the lamps) fed by two olive trees on either side (representing Joshua, the High Priest, and Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah). The meaning is that under G-d’s care and guidance, Zerubbabel will complete the building of the Temple in spite of all opposition, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the L-rd.’
Parashah & Shavuot Study Questions
1. Why is the sad prayer of “tachanun” not recited for seven days after Shavuot?
2. Why did G-d claim the first-born of the Jewish People as His possession (8:17)?
3. Why are the words “B’nei Yisrael” repeated five times in verse 8:19?
4. Why was the mitzvah of Pesach Sheini not commanded directly to Moshe, and what is this relationship to Shavuot (9:7)?
5. Which tastes did the manna not offer, and why not (11:5)??