From The Rabbi’s Study… May 28, 2021/17 Sivan 5781
Torah Behaalotecha (Numbers 8:1-12:16) Haftarah (Zechariah 2:14-4:7)
Memorial Day Weekend when we remember all the men and women that fought and died in the numerous wars our nation had. May their memory be for a blessing.
While our men and women are veterans and those that are in service who expose their lives on the fields of battle in defense of freedom and justice.
“May G-d cause the enemies that rise up against you be struck down before them. Send Your power from on high; may Your right be their salvation. Return them to their lands, to their homes, and to their loved ones, rejoicing in the knowledge that tranny is destroyed, and that doers of evil are no more. And may it be fulfilled for them the verse “for it is G-d your G-d who goes with you to battle your enemies, for you and to save you.” Amen
The Torah portion this Sabbath has the description of the seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), the dedication of the Levites, the second Passover, the journey from Sinai to Moab, murmurings from the children of Israel, appointment of seventy elders to assist Moses and Miriam and Aaron speaking against Moses.
While the Israelites witnessed the 10 Plagues, the wall of fire, the parting of the sea and the drowning of the Egyptians they started to complain. It is just two years after receiving the commandments at Mount Sinai and building of the sanctuary! They start remembering their lives in Egypt and deceiving themselves how it was better than during slavery to Pharaoh. “If only we had meat to eat. Remember the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onion, and the garlic (Numbers 11:4-7).
The commentators ask two questions: What caused the grievances? What might have been an appropriate response by Moses? Rashi suggested that the Israelites were exhausted from their journey, and not having time to rest, raised their voices in protest. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch argued that the Israelites were suffering from boredom, since almost all their needs were met. Keep in mind heavenly manna and fresh water they received daily(double portions for the Sabbath). They were frustrated, having no goal, so they complained to Moses.
Hearing their complaints, Moses voices a few of his own. Feeling isolated and besieged, he asks G-d: “Why have you dealt ill with Your servant, and why have I not enjoyed Your favor? The Torah portion has G-d responding by telling Moses to appoint seventy elders and officers, men of experience, to share the burden of leadership with him. Torah shows us a suggested model of leadership-not to grumble or complain but rather gather experienced people around you to share the burden.
The Haftarah from Zechariah, who was one of the returning exiles from Babylon in 537 B.C.E. Zechariah assures the exiled people of the divine assistance in their work building the Temple and national rehabilitation. The Haftarah concludes with the famous words “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” These words proclaim the lesson of all of Jewish history. It is the prophetic teaching of the Maccabean festival of Hanukkah, in which Zechariah’s name is linked in the synagogue.
It is not through might but by means of G-d’s spirit that great things have been achieved by the Jewish people.
Through our prayers, and our actions of moral and ethical behaviour our people can continue to bring light into the darkness and others that are brought low and to make the world a better place. We pray for all the people dwelling in cities where humanity is suffering. Let goodness and kindness, tolerance and peace arise throughout our country and the world.
As always I continue to say Misherberot (prayers of healing) for anyone that is ill.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder