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June 22, 2024: Parashah Torah Portion Beha'Alotcha - "When You Set Up"

Shabbat: June 21st, 2024 at sunset until June 22nd, 2024 at sunset.


Torah Portion: Numbers 8:1-12:16

Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

Brit Hadashah: 1Corinthians 10:6-13; Revelation 11:1-19

Parashah Torah Portion Beha'Alotcha  - "When You Set Up"

Restore Israel Team: Elihana Elia, Dr. Hadassah Elia & Devorah Silva

In this week's parashah, the LORD first gives instructions about how to light the seven lamps of the menorah within the sanctuary (inner chamber) of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

"The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and say to him, "When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall shine to the front of the menorah." Numbers 8:1-2

The menorah was the place of holy fire and light within the Mishkan (Tabernacle). This holy lampstand was elaborately fashioned out of a single solid piece of gold. Each of the menorah's seven branches was intricately engraved with decorative knobs, cups, and flower-like figures, and pure olive oil was used to illuminate its flames.

According to some of the context in the Scriptures, God Himself made the menorah, based on exegesis of Numbers 8:4b: "according to the pattern that the LORD had shown Moses, so He (the LORD) made the lampstand." The wicks of the menorah were bent toward the middle as if to accentuate the shamash (central) wick.

Moses then gathered the Levites together in order to purify them for their avodah (service) at the Mishkan.

Aaron is commanded to light in the lamps of the menorah, and the tribe of Levi is initiated into the service in the Sanctuary.

This is how the Levites were purified:

1. They were sprinkled with water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer and then immersed in a mikveh (a ritual bath containing flowing water). This was to purify them from tumat hameit - impurity from contact with the dead.

2. The hair on their bodies was completely shaved off (i.e., to take the place of the metzora who was purified from tzara'at).

3. The Israelites were called to the Mishkan and the firstborn among them performed semikhah by laying their hands on the heads of the Levites (transferring the role of the firstborn (bechor) to the Levites).

4. Aaron (the Kohen Gadol) then lifted each Levite up as tenufah lifnei Adonai - a wave offering before the LORD. Each Levite was literally picked up off the ground and waved up, down, left, right, etc., by the High Priest (with 22,000 Levites, this must have been some undertaking for Aaron!).

5. The Levites then laid their hands on selected bulls and Moses offered Korbanot (Offerings): a chatat (sin) offering and an olah (ascending) offering.

As you know, on the day before the Exodus from Egypt, every Israelite offered a lamb as korban Pesach (A Passover Sacrifice) to God. Now, a year later, the LORD instituted Passover as one of the yearly Mo'edim (Appointed Times) by saying: "The children of Israel shall keep the Passover at its appointed season. On the fourteenth day of this month (i.e., Nisan 14), at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time; according to all its statutes and all its rules you shall keep it" (Num. 9:2-3).

Before the Israelites celebrated the Passover, however, a group of men who were responsible for carrying Joseph's coffin, and were therefore tamei (unclean) because of their contact with the dead, asked Moses how they could partake of the ceremony, since under the laws of Passover, they were unfit for the Seder.

Moses inquired of the LORD, who then instituted Pesach Sheini ("Second Passover").

This second day would be exactly a month later (on Iyyar 14) when all those who missed the first Passover would be required to eat the Korban Pesach (Passover lamb) with bitter herbs and unleavened bread in memory of the Exodus from Egypt. Unlike the regular Passover, however, unleavened bread was not required to be eaten the week following Pesach Sheni. (Today, some mark Iyyar 14 by eating matzah in a way analogous to eating the Afikoman-Matzah at the Passover Seder.)

ADONAI 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 Shekhinah (glory) cloud covered the tent of meeting, and whenever the cloud lifted, the people of Israel would set out, and wherever it settled, the people would camp. The Israelites traveled this way for 40 years in the desert, never knowing when a journey would begin or how long it would last.

It was at Sinai that Moses had first set up the Mishkan, dedicated the priesthood, and taught the people the mitzvot of the Torah.

In the "second year, in the second month, on the 20th day of the month" (i.e., Iyyar 20), the cloud lifted from over the tabernacle and the people set out "by stages" toward the desert of Paran in the Negev (the place where Hagar and Ishmael were once abandoned).

After three days journey from Sinai to the Promised Land, the people began to murmur and complain of their difficulties. The people are dissatisfied with their “bread from heaven” (the manna), and demand that Moses supply them with meat. So the LORD sent a fire from heaven that consumed "the edge of the camp." Some Jewish commentators say that those who complained were the Eirev Rav - the "mixed multitude" (Exod. 12: 38) that joined with Israel at the Exodus, since these would be the ones dwelling at the outskirts of the camp and not part of the formation of the shevatim (tribes) of the greater machaneh (camp) of Israel.

The Israelites also fell to complaining about "Who will give us flesh to eat?", which is a bit strange since they had herds of animals that could be slaughtered for food. The Torah states that the Jews missed their "free fish" along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic" and now were fed up with eating the manna that God graciously supplied. Perhaps the Israelites were unwilling to slaughter their livestock because they intended to use them in the Promised Land, or perhaps they were afraid that they were only to be eaten before the LORD during sacrificial occasions... At any rate, the manna was a supernatural food that changed its taste according to the faith and gratitude of the one who ate it. For the tzaddikim (righteous ones), manna tasted wonderful, but to the reshaim (wicked and faithless ones), it tasted dry and boring.

Father YAH, give us a grateful heart! Let our lips refrain from murmuring!

This Parashah is very intense in the teaching of how we disturb our ABBA with our complaints! Also purifying our hearts and abstaining from malice and deception in our tongues. Cause us to be watchful and alert, conscientious about these issues of a carnal heart! Fill us, instead, with a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude unto You ABBA, for all that you have done on our behalf, all that you are doing in our lives, being content with who you are making us out to be, and everything that You have given us! Choosing to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)!

Moses wanted to choose six men from each tribe to be part of the new leadership of Israel, but that would make 72 elders, rather than 70. He used a lottery system to exclude two of the Zekanim, and the two left out were Eldad and Maidad. The LORD honored these two men, however, and put the spirit of prophecy upon them. When Joshua was told, he asked Moses to stop them, but Moses was grateful and exclaimed that he wished all the LORD's people were prophets!

LORD, just as Moses appointed the 70 elders, to whom he imparted of his spirit, to assist him in the burden of governing the people, teach us to DELEGATE and may all Narcisos self promoting leaders be awakened to see the gifts of others and help lead them to the destiny You have appointed for each one! ABBA, teach us to be disciples and to MAKE disciples of YESHUA!

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.

God then asked them why they were so brazen to criticize the one whom the LORD has chosen. When the Pillar of Cloud ascended, Miriam was left with tzara'at (leprosy), the punishment for lashon hara (evil speech). Since the metzora was made an outcast of Israel, Aaron pleaded with Moses for forgiveness and mercy, and Moses prayed on their behalf. Despite his intercession, however, the LORD banished her from the camps of Israel for seven days. The LORD's mercy is shown here, since the Pillar of Cloud waited until Miriam returned to the camp before Israel continued their trek to the Promised Land.

"27Do not give the devil a foothold. .... 29Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.

30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Messiah God forgave you." Ephesians 4: 27-32


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