the windows, peeking out at us from between the cracks." When someone watches you from a window, not only can he see you, but you can see him. But when he looks at you from between the cracks, you don't see him.
There are times when we can't see G-d in our lives, when we feel that He has "run away". However, we should know that He is still peeking out from between the cracks of this world (whose very name and essence is concealement), watching and guarding our every move.
Sources: Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz in Ahavat Yonatan as heard from Rabbi C. Z. Senter
Written and compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair (C) 2002 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.
From: RABBI RISKIN'S SHABBAT SHALOM LIST [email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 7:03 AM To: Shabbat_Shalom@ohrtorahstone.org.il Subject: Shabbat Shalom: Parshiot Behaalotcha (Diaspora) and Shelach (Israel)
DIASPORA: Parshat BEHA'ALOTCHA (Numbers: 8:1-12:16)
Efrat, Israel -The Book of Numbers begins with optimistic faith in the future, picturing a newly-freed nation divided into twelve (or more correctly thirteen) tribes united around a Sanctuary of the Divine Presence poised to enter the Promised Land. Tragically it soon degenerates into a despairing mass of cantankerous, querulous rebels who are doomed to die out in the desert. What and why happened - and how can we prevent such a dismal denouement in the future (or better still, in our present)?
A careful study of the Biblical text in our Torah portion will provide the clue for our understanding. First of all, the Biblical segment called 'Behalotcha" contains many seemingly desperate elements, - from the kindling of the menorah lights, to the election of the Levites, to Pesach Sheni (the second chance to bring the Pascal lamb sacrifice), to the Israelites' preparation for war, to the mystery of the mito'nenim - which are strangely devoid of a connective thread. Indeed, the very first subject of the menorah hardly seems to belong in the Book of Numbers; logic dictates that it should have been recorded in the portions of Trumah and Tetzaveh in the Book of Exodus, in the context of the description of the Sanctuary accoutrements. Rashi hardly provides us with a solution when he links these first verses to the offerings of the tribal princes recorded at the conclusion of last week's Torah Portion, Naso, suggesting that Aaron was disappointed in not having been included in the dedication of the princes. G-d's comment concerning the higher calling involved in the task of preparing and kindling the menorah each morning still sounds like a poor consolation p rize for not having been chosen to participate in the grand dedication ceremony, and doesn't really explain why this lofty obligation had not been set down earlier in the Torah portions dealing with the Sanctuary.
There are also two difficult word usages in our portion. The first appears in the context of the "second chance" to bring the Pascal sacrifice for those who were unable to bring it on the preferred date, the fourteenth day of Nisan, because they were either "ritually impure due to contact with a corpse or in a place far away from you or your generations" (Numbers 9:10). What does it mean to be far from "your generations"? And the second difficult Hebrew word, which occurs only once in the Bible, is the rather cryptic Biblical statement that the Israelites had to suffer a plague of Divine fire because they were evil "mito'nenim" in the ears of G-d (Numbers 11:1). What does "mito'nenim" - usually translated as complainers, (the word is usually written 'mitlonenim') - really mean?
I believe that the very first issue we must attempt to understand is the symbolism of the menorah, which contains seven branches as well as flowers; the menorah is in actuality a tree which gives out light. If we turn back to the very first Biblical story of the Garden of Eden - indeed, the very introduction to the Bible - we find that the "tree of life" remains guarded in splendid isolation until humanity perfects itself
and returns to the primordial period of harmony and peace. This is the goal of Judaism, the mission of Israel to the world: to prepare and kindle the menorah, to bring the "tree of life" to all of humanity by perfecting the world in the Kingship of G-d. We are truly to be a holy nation and a Kingdom of Priests-Kohanim, a menorah, light unto the nations of the world.
It is crucial that we never lose sight of our mission, that we remain committed to the prophetic vision of a perfected society and a return to Eden. Each of the incidents in the Torah portion of Behalotcha deals specifically with leadership - and stresses the necessity of inspired leadership reminding the Israelites of each generation to attempt to fulfill their lofty mission of tikkun olam, world perfection.
This is the logic behind the Biblical understanding that an individual may be physically distanced from Jerusalem when he is obligated to bring the Pascal sacrifice - and he may also be spiritually distanced, "removed from his generation," from the traditions of his forbears, from the vision of his Biblical heritage. Indeed, Rashi even comments that "one can even be standing at the threshold of the Sanctuary," but because he is far away from his generations, he may not even think to enter and give his Pascal offering. Such an individual is given a second chance to become inspired on Pesach Sheni.
Most important of all is our Torah portion's description of the "kvetching" Jews who refuse to conquer the Land of Israel and querulously whine for meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. They are "K'mito'nenim" - a word which sounds like complainers but which is actually derived from onen, a mourner for a deceased parent (as interpreted by HaRav Samson Raphael Hirsch).
I would suggest that they have indeed lost their parents, they have lost the Abrahamic tradition of the 'covenant between the pieces', they have lost the patriarchal and matriarchal dream of the Biblical return to Eden and repair of humanity.
Fascinatingly enough, the Da'at Zekenim suggests that the phrase means that they saw themselves as mourners when they anticipated the war in conquest of Israel; they were afraid to engage in a combat which might mean the loss of Israeli lives. I would suggest that this interpretation is also linked to what I've just explained: a nation bereft of its national goal and national ideals is frightened to risk individual lives because it no longer participates in an eternal life based upon eternal values which is necessary if it is to enjoy a meaningful future. We must constantly inspire every generation to be committed to our traditional ideals in order to face future challenges with courage and faith. Only then shall we merit kindling the menorah so that the Tree of Life from Eden may be restored and regained.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 4:35 AM Subject: RABBI WEIN'S WEEKLY COLUMNS
Parsha Archive May 31 2002 BEHALOTCHA Great projects are oftentimes derailed by small details. The Jewish people are marching towards their goal of the Land of Israel. Moshe tells Yitro: "We are travelling to the place that the Lord has promised to us." The stay in the desert will be a relatively short one, barely two years. The generation of slaves in Egypt is on the verge of becoming an independent nation in its own promised land. And suddenly the whole thing begins to unravel. Yitro abandons them and returns to Midian, thereby weakening the resolve of the people to enter and conquer the Land of Israel. The Jews complain about their diet in the desert, rebel against Moshe, complain against G-d, become frustrated and depressed and the grand march to Israel is aborted.
Small problems and prickly details undo great schemes. The Torah teaches us that the reaction of even one individual such as Yitro to the grand scheme can be sufficient to destroy the plan. Yitro has his reasons for leaving the Jewish people and returning to his home in Midian. Some of his reasons are truly lofty and spiritual ones - he