Parsha Behaalotecha (Numbers 8:1–12:16)

Behaalotecha (Numbers 8:1–12:16)

Summary

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. G‑d 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.

The people are dissatisfied with their “bread from heaven” (the manna), and demand that Moses supply them with meat. Moses appoints 70 elders, to whom he imparts of his spirit, to assist him in the burden of governing the people. Miriam speaks negatively of Moses, and is punished with leprosy; Moses prays for her healing, and the entire community waits seven days for her recovery (Chabad.org)

Text: Chapter 12

1 And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman.

Could be the same person (Rashi) or someone that Moses married when the Hebrews fought against the Cushites (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities). Gershom ben Judah’s takanah in 1000 CE banned polygamy, and Ashkenazi Jews were generally monogamous, which is why Rashi (living 1040-1105 CE) MAY have believed that the “Cushite” and Tzipporah were the same person. But we do not honestly know.

2 And they [Miriam and Aaron] said: ‘Hath the LORD indeed spoken only with Moses? hath He not spoken also with us?’ And the LORD heard it.–

From Parsha Korach: “You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. So why do raise yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” (Num. 16)

3 Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.– {S}
4 And the LORD spoke suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam: ‘Come out ye three unto the tent of meeting.’ And they three came out.
5 And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the Tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forth.
6 And He said: ‘Hear now My words: if there be a prophet among you, I the LORD do make Myself known unto him in a vision, I do speak with him in a dream.

Question: God IS actually speaking to Miriam and Aaron, so what does this mean? Aren’t ALL of the Hebrews experiencing God?

The Divine Presence of [God’s] Name is not revealed to [prophets] with distinct clarity, but in a dream or a vision. – [Tanchuma Tzav 13] (Rashi)

7 My servant Moses is not so; he is trusted in all My house;
8 with him do I speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly, and not in dark speeches [riddles/quiz/mystery]; and the similitude of the LORD doth he behold; wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?’

Translation: I speak with all the prophets through vague dreams and mysteries that they don’t completely understand. But Moses is not like any other prophet. He gets to speak with me in the most complete, intimate way possible. You know that, YET you STILL feel like you can speak against him?

9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and He departed.
10 And when the cloud was removed from over the Tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow; and Aaron looked upon Miriam; and, behold, she was leprous.
11 And Aaron said unto Moses: ‘Oh my lord, lay not, I pray thee, sin upon us, for that we have done foolishly, and for that we have sinned.

Question: isn’t lashon hara (gossip) sin? How can sin be PUT on someone? Hebrew word for sin is “khata” or “transgression”. God is finding guilt in a transgression. This is an example of a reciprocal relationship.

Question: What does it say about the nature of God and Moses relationship that Moses can say no to God?

12 Let her not, I pray, be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb.’
13 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying: ‘Heal her now, O God, I beseech Thee.’ {P}

First healing prayer: Eil na rafa na la. Another translation: Please God, please heal her.

14 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘If her father had but spit in her face, should she not hide in shame seven days? let her be shut up without the camp seven days, and after that she shall be brought in again.’
15 And Miriam was shut up without the camp seven days; and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.

Question: is there compassion in this?

16 And afterward the people journeyed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran. {P} (Mechon-Mamre.org)

 

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