Published Date: June 02, 2017
In this Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Beha’alotcha Numbers 8:1–12:16, Aaron is commanded to raise light in the lamps of the menorah, and the tribe of Levi is initiated into the service in the Sanctuary.
A “Second Passover” is instituted in response to the petition “Why should we be deprived?” by a group of Jews who were unable to bring the Passover offering in its appointed time because they were ritually impure. God instructs Moses on the procedures for Israel’s journeys and encampments in the desert, and the people journey in formation from Mount Sinai, where they had been camped for nearly a year.
In this week’s Haftara Prophets reading Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7, contains a vision of the golden Temple Menorah, whose daily kindling is discussed in the opening of this week’s Torah reading.
This prophecy was communicated by Zechariah shortly before the building of the Second Temple. The haftorah opens with a vivid depiction of the joy that will prevail when God will return to Jerusalem: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, behold! I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord.”
The prophet then describes a scene in the Heavenly Court: Satan was seeking to incriminate Joshua, the first High Priest to serve in the Second Temple, because of the “soiled garments” (i.e. sins) he was wearing. God himself defends the High Priest: “And the Lord said to Satan: The Lord shall rebuke you, O Satan; the Lord who chose Jerusalem shall rebuke you. Is [Joshua] not a brand plucked from fire?” I.e., how dare Satan prosecute an individual who endured the hardships of exile? “And He raised His voice and said to those standing before him, saying, ‘Take the filthy garments off him.’ And He said to him, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I have clad you with clean garments.'”