Help Wanted

Help Wanted

May 28, 2021 By Shira D. Epstein | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

In recent years, Jewish institutions have joined efforts to address issues of equity in the workforce, encouraging transparency in publicized pay scales, promotion criteria, and job requirements. This endeavor has been facilitated by pioneering organizations such as the Gender Equity in Hiring Project that did not exist when I negotiated salary for my first classroom teaching position. I reflect back on the hiring process, which felt at the time like a puzzle for which I was meant to know the solution but could not access; I now understand that these feelings of isolation were common, particularly when no formal pay scale existed. Today as an activist for workplace equity, I benefit from the wisdom of current advocacy; at the urging of some of our alumni, The William Davidson School weekly newsletters have recently begun to only post descriptions that include salary ranges. This seemingly small change enables a level playing field, putting employers and job candidates on more equitable negotiating grounds.  

Read More
The Journey

The Journey

Jun 12, 2020 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

How do we progress toward our goals? Individually and societally, how do we know when to move forward, and which direction to go?

Read More
Modeling Behavior for the Sake of Humankind

Modeling Behavior for the Sake of Humankind

Jun 21, 2019 By Walter Herzberg | Commentary | Text Study | Beha'alotekha

In the last narrative in Parashat Beha’alotehkha, it seems that Miriam and Aaron are speaking against their brother Moses—though the nature of the complaint is far from clear. Whatever the complaint may be, God summons Miriam and Aaron and takes them to task for not being “afraid to speak against My servant Moses.”

Read More
Body Language

Body Language

Jun 1, 2018 By Amy Kalmanofsky | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

Jews love words. We love to talk and we love to read. It is telling that we celebrate our holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, by gathering and reading aloud a 250-page book.

Parashat Beha’alotekha reminds us there is more to religious observance than words. There is profound power in body language—in nonverbal rituals that involve, even mark, the body.

Read More
A Strong Sign

A Strong Sign

Jun 9, 2017 By Nicole Wilson-Spiro | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

I offered my very first devar Torah on this portion as I became a bat mitzvah 25 years ago. My memory of my early thoughts on this portion is admittedly hazy, but I am quite sure I did not pick up on the age requirements given in the portion for serving as a Levite. According to Numbers 8:24–25, a Levite man was required to be between 25 and 50 years old to perform the duties associated with the Tabernacle. Rashi notes that Numbers 4:3 states that the minimum age for service is 30 years, and not 25, as in our portion. He suggests that at 25 a Levite man began to study the laws of sacrifice, and after five years of study, at the age of 30, he was prepared to take on his Levitical duties.

Read More
Let’s Talk about Sex

Let’s Talk about Sex

Jun 9, 2017 By Michal Raucher | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

There are many unanswered questions about the now-infamous incident of God chastising Aaron and Miriam and then inflicting Miriam with tzara’at, or leprosy, at the conclusion of Parashat Beha’alotekha. Primarily, there are questions about what exactly Miriam and Aaron did to receive God’s rebuke, and why Miriam is the only one punished. Many interpreters have considered Miriam’s wrongdoing in two ways: either she is guilty of racism towards Tziporah, or God scolds her for the presumption that she and Aaron are prophets just as important as Moses.

Read More
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. 

Read More
Notifications Now and Then

Notifications Now and Then

Jun 24, 2016 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

How often do we hear this sound, or feel the vibrations of a mobile device demanding our attention? Breaking news, emails, traffic, and game updates—alerts both trivial and critical are brought to us by beeps, bars of music, and buzzes.

Read More
Humility

Humility

Jun 5, 2015 By Judith Greenberg | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

While wandering in the wilderness, when God’s cloud of glory rests on the Tabernacle, Israel dwells in their camp. When the cloud lifts, they journey onward. In the first half of this week’s parashah, Beha’alotekha, life is orderly and peaceful, with each tribe and each leader in their place in the procession.

Read More
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.

Read More
Balancing God’s Will and Our Own

Balancing God’s Will and Our Own

Jun 6, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

Parashat Beha’alotekha gives us insight into the Israelite trek through the wilderness.

Read More
The Working Life

The Working Life

Jun 6, 2014 By Lilly Kaufman | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

In my family, we are not the retiring type—although we do tend toward shyness.

Read More
New Generation, Old Leaders

New Generation, Old Leaders

May 24, 2013 By Ute Steyer | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

To paraphrase Moses’s meltdown in Numbers 11:11–15, “Lord! I’m so done with them! I can’t take it anymore. These people are nothing but a bunch of whinging losers.” Yet the People are doing what they have been doing since day one of the Exodus: complaining. About the lack of water, the lack of food, and now the lack of meat. So why is Moses losing his temper so completely this time?

Read More
The Importance of Being Humble

The Importance of Being Humble

May 24, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

An unfortunate incident mars the otherwise solid familial bond between Moses and his siblings in Parashat Beha’alotekha.

Read More
Radiating God’s Light

Radiating God’s Light

Jun 9, 2012 By Charlie Schwartz | Commentary | Text Study | Beha'alotekha

This empowering message suggests that what brings God’s presence into the world is not miracles, or even the exercising of the divine will, but rather the careful crafting of holy objects and holy spaces so that their light is able to reflect outward, transforming the dark cracks and crevasses of the world with soft and sacred light.

Read More
Transactional and Transformational Leadership

Transactional and Transformational Leadership

Jun 9, 2012 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

A close reading of Numbers 11 offers insights into the tensions that leaders today face in balancing the demands of self-interest with higher ideals for advancing the greater good.

Read More
“Lights, Camera, Action!”

“Lights, Camera, Action!”

Jun 11, 2011 By Deborah Miller | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

We’ve all heard the adage about the opera not being over until the fat lady sings. But the opera doesn’t begin, at least not at the Metropolitan Opera, until the chandeliers go up. The performance starts even before the curtain opens, as the twinkling crystal chandeliers ascend to the ceiling. The stage has been set for something illuminating, magical, and transcendent. We are invited to enter into an alternate realm that whisks us away from the finite and ordinary world we inhabit.

Read More
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.

Read More
How Do We Deal with Frustration?

How Do We Deal with Frustration?

May 29, 2010 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

As the Israelites begin their journey away from a place they’ve called home for 400 years toward an unknown land and future, their frustrations turn into complaints that ignite God’s wrath and test the limits of Moses’s patience. Two models emerge from this cycle of stories.

Read More
Lessons From the Wilderness

Lessons From the Wilderness

Jun 13, 2009 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

Powerful images of authority dominate this week’s Torah portion. How do these images relate to contemporary readers who—despite our distance from the events in the wilderness—remain part of the people Israel’s progress toward the Promised Land? 

Read More
Reset Search

SUBSCRIBE TO TORAH FROM JTS

Our regular commentaries and videos are a great way to stay intellectually and spiritually engaged with Jewish thought and wisdom.