• Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

    On the first anniversary of the Exodus, the children of Israel are instructed to bring the Pesach offering in its appointed time (9:2). In the next passuk (verse), the Torah instructs, “you [Moshe]” shall make it [the Pesach offering] in its appointed time” (9:3). It seems reasonable that stating this law once would be sufficient. Why then would the Torah repeat itself in the very next sentence? And why mention Moshe, an individual who will ultimately perish, in a lasting law?

    Rav S. R. Hirsch suggests that the first instruction is for future generations, while the second is meant to address Moshe directly as a means to acknowledge the immortality of the community he created. This honorable mention highlights the critical concept of community that Moshe initiated. Just as Moshe created a lasting community that will honor him eternally, we too have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in our respective communities that will forever endure.

  • Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

    Parshat Beha’alotcha begins with G-d instructing Aaron to light the Menorah with the candles facing its center (8:2). Rashi explains that Aaron felt dejected because his tribe was not listed in the preceding list of tribe offerings. G-d was addressing his disappointment by giving Aaron a task that is more eternal than a one-time offering. However, why would G-d need anyone’s help in lighting the Menorah? The Midrash explains that this was to elevate the Jewish nation as a whole, but how does this act of Aaron lighting the Menorah comfort Aaron’s feelings and elevate an entire people?

    Rabbi Henach Leibowitz answers by describing two levels of chesed (kindness). The basic level of kindness is compassion for the plight of others, while the higher level stems from a feeling of love. The difference lies in the way others receive these acts. While accepting kindness may leave the recipient feeling indebted, giving compelled by love makes the recipient feel loved, wanted, and appreciated. When G-d asked Aaron to light the Menorah, He was making Aaron a partner. Giving and helping from a place of love and acceptance has the potential to change not only all our interactions but the world.

  • Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

    Parshat Beha’alotcha details several by the Jews, and the resolution of those complaints, including flying in quails and introducing prophets. The Torah then 1) records Miriam speaking negatively about Moshe, 2) tells us the fact that Moshe was the most humble person on earth, and 3) G-d defends Moshe to Miriam and Aaron. Is there a connection between the complaints, Moshe’s humility and Miriam’s Lashon Hara (harmful words)?

    Rabbi David Fohrman explains that Moshe’s humility meant that his sole purpose was to benefit G-d, which is why Moshe was also able to assert himself when required, and relinquish some of his responsibility to prophets when asked to. When you’re willing to be anonymous and forego your ego, that’s when you can affect the most change. That’s what G-d was conveying to Miriam, to the Jews, and to us – it’s not about who gets to deliver a message, it’s about getting the message to where it needs to get to.

    Bonus: The name of the place where all this happened was changed from Paran (10:12) to Tab’erah (11:3) because of the fire caused by the complaints, to Kivrot Ha’taavah (11:34) because of the craving for meat, and then back to Paran (12:16). It could be that once the lesson was learned, the Jews were able to regroup where it all started, with their new understanding about complains and humility.

  • Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

    Chapter 11 of the book of Bemidbar marks a sharp turning point in the trajectory of the story.  The previous chapters emphasized the holiness of the Israelite camp and their closeness to G-d, but chapter 11 begins a series of sins that will lead to a distancing from G-d and 40 years of wandering in the desert.  This transition begins with the verse, “the people were ke’mitoninim (like mitoninim), evil in the ears of G-d.” The word mitoninim is very unusual, and the commentators grapple both with what it means as well as why the people are described as “like” mitoninim as opposed to actually being mitoninim.

    The Ramban explains that mitoninim comes from a root word that means suffering; the Jews began complaining as if they were suffering greatly, despite the fact that G-d was providing all their needs (literally, manna from heaven). The Abarbanel believes that the proper root word is one that means to find a pretext; the people were trying to find a pretext in order to speak against G-d.  Still, why does it say “like trying to find a pretext” as opposed to simply “trying to find a pretext”?

    He explains that the people’s challenges and statements against G-d were never stated in an outright fashion but instead were expressed through jokes and snide comments.  The “ke” (“like”) illustrates an important reality.  Offhanded comments can be as corrosive as outright attacks, and are arguably more dangerous because they are more acceptable to say.  If a child constantly hears negative comments about a person, institution or G-d himself, even if they are ostensibly jokes, it will almost certainly erode their respect for the subject of the jokes.  The jokes are likely to have a similar effect on the speaker as well. This teaches us how careful we must be to avoid even joking speech that will be damaging, and instead use words that will be rewarding.

  • Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

    Chapter 11 of the book of Bemidbar marks a sharp turning point in the trajectory of the story.  The previous chapters emphasized the holiness of the Israelite camp and their closeness to G-d, but chapter 11 begins a series of sins that will lead to a distancing from G-d and 40 years of wandering in the desert.  This transition begins with the verse, “the people were k’mitoninim (like mitoninim), evil in the ears of G-d.” The word mitoninim is very unusual, and the commentators grapple both with what it means as well as why the people are described as “like” mitoninim as opposed to actually being mitoninim.

    The Ramban explains that mitoninim comes from a root word that means suffering; the Jews began complaining as if they were suffering greatly, despite the fact that G-d was providing all their needs (literally, manna from heaven). The Abarbanel believes that the proper root word is one that means to find a pretext; the people were trying to find a pretext in order to speak against G-d.  Still, why does it say “like trying to find a pretext” as opposed to simply “trying to find a pretext”?

    He explains that the people’s challenges and statements against G-d were never stated in an outright fashion but instead were expressed through jokes and snide comments.  The “ke” (“like”) illustrates an important reality.  Offhanded comments can be as corrosive as outright attacks, and are arguably more dangerous because they are more acceptable to say.  If a child constantly hears negative comments about a person, institution or G-d himself, even if they are ostensibly jokes, it will almost certainly erode their respect for the subject of the jokes.  The jokes are likely to have a similar effect on the speaker as well. This teaches us how careful we must be to avoid even joking speech that will be damaging, and instead use words that will be rewarding.

  • Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

    Chapter 11 of the book of Bemidbar marks a sharp turning point in the trajectory of the story.  The previous chapters emphasized the holiness of the Israelite camp and their closeness to G-d, but chapter 11 begins a series of sins that will lead to a distancing from G-d and 40 years of wandering in the desert.  This transition begins with the verse, “the people were k’mitoninim (like mitoninim), evil in the ears of G-d.” The word mitoninim is very unusual, and the commentators grapple both with what it means as well as why the people are described as “like” mitoninim as opposed to actually being mitoninim.

    The Ramban explains that mitoninim comes from a root word that means suffering; the Jews began complaining as if they were suffering greatly, despite the fact that G-d was providing all their needs (literally, manna from heaven). The Abarbanel believes that the proper root word is one that means to find a pretext; the people were trying to find a pretext in order to speak against G-d.  Still, why does it say “like trying to find a pretext” as opposed to simply “trying to find a pretext”?

    He explains that the people’s challenges and statements against G-d were never stated in an outright fashion but instead were expressed through jokes and snide comments.  The “ke” (“like”) illustrates an important reality.  Offhanded comments can be as corrosive as outright attacks, and are arguably more dangerous because they are more acceptable to say.  If a child constantly hears negative comments about a person, institution or G-d himself, even if they are ostensibly jokes, it will almost certainly erode their respect for the subject of the jokes.  The jokes are likely to have a similar effect on the speaker as well. This teaches us how careful we must be to avoid even joking speech that will be damaging, and instead use words that will be rewarding.

  • Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

    Chapter 11 of the book of Bemidbar marks a sharp turning point in the trajectory of the story.  The previous chapters emphasized the holiness of the Israelite camp and their closeness to G-d, but chapter 11 begins a series of sins that will lead to a distancing from G-d and 40 years of wandering in the desert.  This transition begins with the verse, “the people were k’mitoninim (like mitoninim), evil in the ears of G-d.” The word mitoninim is very unusual, and the commentators grapple both with what it means as well as why the people are described as “like” mitoninim as opposed to actually being mitoninim.

    The Ramban explains that mitoninim comes from a root word that means suffering; the Jews began complaining as if they were suffering greatly, despite the fact that G-d was providing all their needs (literally, manna from heaven). The Abarbanel believes that the proper root word is one that means to find a pretext; the people were trying to find a pretext in order to speak against G-d.  Still, why does it say “like trying to find a pretext” as opposed to simply “trying to find a pretext”?

    He explains that the people’s challenges and statements against G-d were never stated in an outright fashion but instead were expressed through jokes and snide comments.  The “ke” (“like”) illustrates an important reality.  Offhanded comments can be as corrosive as outright attacks, and  are arguably more dangerous because they are more acceptable to say.  If a child constantly hears negative comments about a person, institution or G-d himself, even if they are ostensibly jokes, it will almost certainly erode their respect for the subject of the jokes.  The jokes are likely to have a similar effect on the speaker as well. This teaches us how careful we must be to avoid even
    joking speech that will be damaging, and instead use words that will be rewarding.

  • Daily Aliya for Beha’alotcha, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: 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, Mosh’s sister, spoke negatively of Moshe’s 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.

    Moshe offers a short but eloquent prayer on behalf of his sister. The People delay their travels for the week of Miriam’s isolation. (81 years previously, Miriam had stood by the Nile protectively watching over her baby brother Moshe in the basket. Her “reward-in-kind” is this 7-day delay. The Mishna points out that good deeds are thusly rewarded.)

  • Daily Aliya for Beha’alotcha, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: 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. Moshe turns to G‑d and insists that he cannot bear his leadership role any longer. G‑d tells Moshe 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…” Moshe 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 Moshe placates him.

    Eighteen times in the Tanach, it says “And G-d got angry with…” Yisrael or Bnei Yisrael, or His people. When the People complained about the Manna, etc., the Torah says that G-d got very angry. Why? Kedushat Levi explains that usually when G-d got angry at the People, Moshe would rise to their defense and pursuade G-d, so to speak, not to punish them. This time the Torah says that “and in Moshe’s eyes it was bad”. Moshe was more upset with the people than usual, and this “angered” G-d all the more.

  • Daily Aliya for Beha’alotcha, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: 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. Moshe pleads with his father-in-law Yitro to join them on their journey to the Land of Israel.

    At this point in the Torah, we are 13 months out of Egypt and neither the people nor Moshe have done what later caused them to be barred from entry into Israel. After Moshe talks to Yitro, it was supposed to be a three-day trip (condensed into one day) to bring us WITH Moshe, into the Land of Israel. But then things started going wrong…

Back to top