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| Published: June 06, 2022
In this week’s Torah reading, Beha’alotecha, G‑d instructs Aaron concerning the Tabernacle Menorah lighting. The Levites are initiated into the Tabernacle service. The “Second Passover” is instituted. At G‑d’s behest, Moses makes two trumpets, and is instructed how and when to use them. The Israelites leave Mount Sinai, and proceed towards the Land of Canaan. The people unreasonably complain about their “frugal” manna diet and receive a meat supplement, albeit with tragic results. Moses appoints seventy elders to assist him in bearing the burden of the people. Miriam speaks negatively about Moses and is punished with tzara’at (a skin disease).
First Aliyah: G‑d commands Aaron to light the golden Tabernacle Menorah on a daily basis. Moses is then commanded to initiate the Levites into Tabernacle service. This inauguration procedure included shaving their bodies, immersion in a mikvah, and the offering of certain sacrifices.
Second Aliyah: The exact prescribed initiation procedure is followed, and the Levites are consecrated to G‑d — in stead of the firstborn who lost their hallowed status when they participated in the sin of the Golden Calf. Towards the end of this section we learn the Levite service age-requirements and retirement age.
Third Aliyah: On the first anniversary of the Exodus, the Jews are instructed to bring the Paschal Offering. Certain individuals, however, couldn’t participate because they were ritually impure. These people lodged a complaint, which Moses then transmitted to G‑d. G‑d responds by designating a “Second Passover” to be observed exactly one month later. Anyone who could not offer the Paschal Offering in its proper time must do so on the Second Passover. G‑d then informs Moses the laws of the Second Passover.
Fourth Aliyah: From the day the Tabernacle was erected, it was covered by a cloud during the day, and a fire by night. When the cloud lifted, this signaled G‑d’s wish that the Jews should journey onwards — following the cloud until it came to rest in a new location of G‑d’s choosing. In some cases the Jews only stayed overnight in a particular location before the sign came for them to depart again, and on other occasions they would stay in one place for many years. This section then discusses Moses’ two silver trumpets. These trumpets were used for several purposes: 1) To assemble the nation or its leaders. 2) To signal the beginning of a journey. 3) The trumpets were blown when the Jews went to battle. 4) The trumpets were sounded when certain communal sacrifices were offered in the Tabernacle.
Fifth Aliyah: Nearly one year after the Jews arrived at Mount Sinai, the cloud rises from the Tabernacle, signaling their impending departure. The Tabernacle was dismantled and they traveled in formation as outlined on last week’s Torah reading. Moses pleads with his father-in-law Jethro to join them on their journey to the Land of Israel.
Sixth Aliyah: No sooner than the Jews start traveling, and they start complaining. First they complain about the “arduous” journey. Then they grumble about the manna, expressing their desire for meat. Moses turns to G‑d and insists that he cannot bear his leadership role any longer. G‑d tells Moses to gather seventy elders who will assist him in his leadership duties. He also promises to provide the Jews with an abundance of meat — “until it will come out of their noses…” Moses gathers seventy elders and brings them to the Tabernacle where his holy spirit is imparted upon them. Two additional elders, Eldad and Medad, remain in the camp, and the holy spirit descends upon them, too, and they prophesy as well. Joshua is displeased by this, and Moses placates him.
Seventh Aliyah: G‑d causes a wind to sweep in huge numbers of quail from the sea. The people gathered piles of quail and started enjoying meat. Those who ate gluttonously died in a plague. Miriam, Moses’ sister, spoke negatively of Moses’ decision to become celibate. G‑d was highly displeased by this talk against His servant, and Miriam was stricken with tzara’at (“leprosy”) for one week.
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