An All-Too-Easy Transgression

An All-Too-Easy Transgression

Jun 24, 2016 By Leonard A. Sharzer | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

The concluding episode of this week’s parashah is one of the most well-known and intriguing stories in the Torah, that of Miriam and Aaron publicly maligning Moses and the consequences thereof. The basic elements of the narrative (Num. 12:1–16) are these: Miriam and Aaron speak out against Moses regarding the Cushite woman he has married, and complain that he is not the only prophet in the family. God has spoken through the two of them, as well. God hears all of this. 

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The Idolatry of Stasis

The Idolatry of Stasis

Jun 11, 2011 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Beha'alotekha

Only in Hebrew leap years does Shavu’ot coincide with Parashat Beha’alotekha, but every day we are faced with the challenges that this midrash addresses.

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There Are No Shortcuts

There Are No Shortcuts

Jun 8, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

The nation Moses brought out of Egypt shared neither his vision nor faith.

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The Good Ol’ Days

The Good Ol’ Days

Jun 5, 2015 By Danielle Upbin | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

When the going gets tough, who doesn’t pine for the “good ol’ days”? Even when those past realities had challenges of their own, we tend not to remember them that way. It is human nature to favor selective memory. Consider our ancestors in this week’s parashah, crying for the fleshpots they enjoyed in Egypt, the cucumbers, garlic, and leeks (Num. 11:5). Did they forget about the slaughter of their firstborn, the harsh labor, the separation of families? In a moment of hunger and thirst for something they didn’t have, they forgot that they had actually been slaves in Egypt.

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An Extra Book

An Extra Book

Jun 17, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

Parashat B’ha–alot’kha continues the narrative of the Israelite journey through the wilderness of Sinai. More than that, a curious phenomenon occurs at the midpoint of this week’s parashah. An inverted Hebrew letter nun appears twice, forming bookends around two verses: Numbers 10:35–36. They read, “When the Ark was to set out, Moses would say: Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered, and your foes flee before You! And when it halted, he would say: Return, O Lord, You who are Israel’s myriads of thousands!” While these verses are most recognizable from the opening of the ark during the Torah service, the unusual markings formed by the inverted nuns lead to a fascinating teaching in the Babylonian Talmud.

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The Botanical Menorah

The Botanical Menorah

Jun 18, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

A central image of this week’s parashah is the seven-branched menorah, which was lit in the Israelites’ journey in the desert and later in the Temple. This ancient symbol turns our thoughts to Shabbat, and also toward the land of Israel.

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The Lamp and the Oil

The Lamp and the Oil

Jun 5, 2004 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

Partnership is one of the core concepts of Torah. One individual cannot sustain the entire world. One family cannot build a people. And one nation cannot single handedly effect redemption. Or in the discourse of philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel, God needs Israel just as much as Israel needs God. This message is communicated quite eloquently in an illustrative midrash: “Rav Aha said, ‘Israel is likened to an olive tree: ‘A leafy olive tree fair with goodly fruits’ (Jeremiah 11:16). And God is likened to a lamp: ‘The lamp of the Lord is the spirit of man’ (Proverbs 20:27). What use is made of olive oil? It is put into a lamp and then the two together give light as though they were one.’ “

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Honoring Elders

Honoring Elders

Jun 1, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

Jews have a reputation for being dramatically argumentative. Opinions are pronounced vociferously. Everyone interrupts everyone else. It is perhaps not widely known that interrupting an elder is not only rude but is prohibited by Jewish law. As a religious system, Jewish law legislates about matters outside the bounds of secular law. Matters that secular society sees as ethical, but voluntary, are seen by Judaism as mandatory.

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