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TZEKED, TZEDEK TIRDOF
“Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deut. 16:18-20). The prophet Isaiah says, “observe what is right and do what is just.” (Isa. 56:1) More than ever do these words and ideas matter and mean something. These words apply to the smallest of issues as well as to the greatest. As Jews we know this truth especially given our own history and obligation to repair the world (Tikkun Olam).
When You Raise [the Lamps]
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you mount the lamps, let the seven lamps give light at the front of the lampstand.'” – Numbers 8:1-2
• God speaks to Moses, describing the menorah for the Tent of Meeting. The Levites are appointed to serve as assistants under Aaron and his sons. (8:1-26)
• Those who are unable to celebrate Passover during Nisan are given a time in the month of [Iyar] to observe a “second Passover.” (9:1-14)
• A cloud by day and fire by night show God’s Presence over the Tabernacle. When the cloud lifts from the Tabernacle, the people leave Sinai, setting out on their journey, tribe by tribe. (9:15-10:36)
• The Israelites complain about the lack of meat, and Moses becomes frustrated. God tells him to appoint a council of elders. God provides the people with meat and then strikes them with a very severe plague. (11:1-34)
• Miriam and Aaron talk about the “Cushite woman” whom Moses has married. In addition, they complain that God speaks not only through Moses but also through them. Miriam is struck with leprosy, and Moses begs God to heal her. After her recovery, the people resume their journey. (12:1-16)
Several verses from this section are used in the liturgy, for example in the Torah Service during Hagbahah we chant, “al pi Adonai b’yad Moshe”, from Numbers 9:23.
In the Yigdal hymn, the eighth verse, “God gave His people a Torah of truth, by means of His prophet, the most trusted of His household,” reflects Numbers 12:7–8.
The 16th-century Safed Rabbi Eliezer Azikri quoted the words of the prayer of Moses “Please God” (אֵל, נָא, El nah) in Numbers 12:13 in his kabbalistic poem Yedid Nefesh (“Soul’s Beloved”), which in turn many congregations chant just before the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service.
The prayer of Moses for Miriam’s health in Numbers 12:13, “Heal her now, O God, I beseech You” (אֵל, נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ, El, nah r’fah nah lah) — just five simple words in Hebrew — demonstrates that it is not the length of a prayer that matters.
The haftarah for the parashah is Zechariah 2:14–4:7.
Both the parashah and the haftarah discuss the Menorah. The text of Zechariah shortly after that of the haftarah explains that the lights of the Menorah symbolize God’s eyes, keeping watch on the earth. And in the haftarah, God’s angel explains the message of Zechariah’s vision of the Menorah: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
WRESTLING WITH TORAH
The portion for this Shabbat presents us with some conundrums. The cryptic reference to the Cushite woman and the story of Miriam’s punishment are riddles. What is the writer telling us? Who or what is a Cushite? Why is it a problem that Moses marries one? Why does Miriam get punished and not Aaron? What is the message, especially to women who complain or say something? Is this just a story about jealousy? Or is it really about racism and unequal treatment? What clues do these passages give us about resolving such issues in our own day?
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those in need of physical, emotional and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
Traditionally, a temple serves three distinct but related functions: a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit Knesset (House of Community). Being part of, contributing and connecting to the Temple Kol Hamidbar community is being part of the Beit Knesset and helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose.
We had an auspicious start to our online Friday Evening Services last week. Friends from far and near were able to join us which added to the joy and beauty of the start of Shabbat. Thank you to one and all who joined us for your support and participation.
Even though gathering in person is still sometime in the future, you can do so virtually by joining us online this evening:
Topic: Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jun 12, 2020 07:00 PM Arizona
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
You may also access Erev Shabbat Services directly through the Temple Kol Hamidbar website at https://templekol.com/
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!