Parashat Beha’alotkha 5783

June 6, 2023

Rabbi Steven Altarescu ('14)

In my spiritual journey I have come across a difficulty that in Buddhist thought is taught to be the cause of much of our suffering. This is the phenomenon of craving. The human characteristic of craving is often confused with desire. Distinguishing between healthy desire and craving / unhealthy desire takes both thoughtful self-reflection into the source of desire and the consequences of acting on our desires. Craving originates in our fears, from trauma, loneliness and doubt. Healthy desires emanate from gratitude, love, compassion and the joy of connecting to our deepest selves, each other and the world. We see the results of craving in how the lust for wealth, sex, food or alcohol have ruinous results for ourselves, our relationships and our planet. We also see how healthy desire manifests itself in acts of kindness, artistic creations, and in those who teach and share their knowledge, interests, and wonder of the world with others. In Parashat Beha’alotekha, a...

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Parashat Beha’alotekha 5782

June 17, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Beha’alotekha By Rabbi Enid Lader (’10) On the day that the Mishkan [portable Tabernacle/Temple] was set up, the cloud covered the Mishkan, the Tent of the Pact; and in the evening it rested over the Mishkan in the likeness of fire until morning. It was always so: the cloud covered it, appearing as fire by night… At a command of the Eternal, the Israelites broke camp, and at a command of the Eternal, they made camp… (Numbers 9:15-16, 18) In his commentary on this week’s Torah portion, Beha’alotekha, Netivot Shalom (Rabbi Shalom Noah Berezovsky, 1911-2000, better known as Netivot Shalom or The Slominer, after his book and the Hasidic sect he led) invites us to understand the building of the Mishkan on a personal level. When the Eternal said, “Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” (Ex. 25:8) this hints at the concept...

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Parashat Beha’alotekha 5781

May 28, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Beha’alotekha By Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman Two stories appear at the end of the parasha this week, Beha’alotekha, which teach important lessons about life in general, but speak clearly to the ways in which our AJR pluralistic community survives and thrives. The first story is that of Eldad and Meidad, two of the seventy leaders of the people on whom had been bestowed a level of prophecy so that they might assist Moses. When these two seemed to use their prophetic powers in excess, Joshua called upon Moses to punish them. Moses responded to Joshua saying, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the people could be prophets if Hashem would but place His spirit in them.” (Numbers 11:26-29) We are witness here to a great quality of Moses and one for which we should all aspire: The...

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Parashat Beha’alotekha

June 12, 2020

God Expands the Torah A D’var Torah for Rarashat Beha’alotekha By Rabbi Irwin Huberman (’11) Can we incorporate within our personal theology a divine and all-knowing God, who agrees to change the laws of Torah upon human request? It’s an interesting question that emerges both in this week’s Torah portion – Beha’alotekha – (when you light the lamps) and later in the Book of Numbers, where the Daughters of Zelofhad ask God to amend the Torah’s laws surrounding land ownership. In this week’s parashah, an interesting interaction occurs between Moses and a group of men, who come in contact with a dead body. According to the Torah, those who become ritually impure (tameh) through contact with a corpse are not permitted to participate in the Passover sacrifice. But, the men want to complete the commandment. They take their case to Moses: “Impure though we are by reason of a corpse,...

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Parashat Beha’alotekha 5779

June 21, 2019

Lighting Us Up: Theology, Pluralism and Becoming the Menorah A D’var Torah for Parashat Beha’alotekha By Rabbi David Markus What does God need of our spirituality, what do we need of it, and how do we know? These questions cast long theological shadows across sacred tradition, and efforts at clarity often generate more heat than light. It’s with those questions in mind that I read of Parashat Beha’alotekha’s seven-branch gold menorah, symbol of Jewish peoplehood and the modern State of Israel. Why seven branches? The parashah doesn’t say. God just tells Moses to instruct Aaron: “In your lifting the lamps (beha’alotekha et ha-neirot) to light, let seven lamps shine at the front of the menorah” (Numbers 8:2). The fact of the menorah’s “seven” is assumed. Torah continues that the menorah should look as previously described – alluding to the design God showed Moses at Sinai (Exodus 25:40). There too, however, Torah doesn’t...

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