From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/bhaalotcha
B’haalot’cha (בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ — Hebrew for “When You Raise [the Lamps]“) – 8:1−12:16
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 Sivan 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)
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behaalotecha#Haftarah
Connection to the parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah discuss the Menorah. 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.” Both the parashah and the haftarah also discuss the purification of priests and their clothes, the parashah in the purification of the Levites and the haftarah in the purification of the High Priest Joshua.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/bhaalotcha
By: Rabbi Leah R. Berkowitz
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Numbers that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from Zechariah 2:14-4:7. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.8.1-12.16, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Zechariah.2.14-4.7
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
בהעלתך B’haalot’cha – Numbers 8:1–12:16
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Tal Ilan, pp. 862-4
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses (12:1). This episode raises several concerns. God nominates male priests, male Levites, and male elders to run the enterprise of Israel, whereas women are all but absent. The only women we meet are Moses’ sister Miriam, who speaks (out of turn), and his Ethiopian wife, who is silent. In Exodus 15:20, Miriam had been designated as a prophet, and she now claims a prophetic role for herself. Yet, although Miriam and Aaron both discuss Moses’ wife, it is only Miriam who is punished for her words.
The question of God’s partial administration of justice is the only one of these issues that is explored in the Rabbis’ discourse on this parashah. The tannaitic Midrash Sifrei B’midbar 99 raises the inequity of Miriam’s treatment and answers with the words: “This show that it was Mirman who first raised the issue.” That is, Miriam was responsible for initiating the critical conversation about Moses’ wife and was the person punished. Yet, not all the Rabbis were happy with this superficial solution. In BT Shabbat 97a, Rabbi Akiva argues that Aaron too was afflicted with leprosy, based on the notice in v. 9 that God was “incensed with them” (plural). However, this is a minority view; the general opinion in that talmudic passage is that Aaron was not similarly stricken. Another halachic midrash, Sifra, M’tzora 5.7, identifies tzaraat as the quintessential punishment for slander, and it emphasizes that Miriam’s contraction of tzaraat (Number 12:10) was the result of her denunciation of Moses, essentially because she slandered him behind his back.
The sages were also interested in solving the apparent contradiction between what we hear about Moses’ marrying an Ethiopian woman and what we know about his marriage to the Midianite woman, Zipporah (Exodus 2:21). Earlier Jewish Hellenistic literature suggested that young Moses–while still an Egyptian prince–had carried out a campaign against Ethiopia and there married an Ethiopian princess (Josephus, Antiquities, 252-3). Yet the Rabbis do not adopt this solution. In their opinion, the Ethiopian woman is none other than Zipporah herself, and thus they need to explain why she is called Ethiopian–and why Miriam and Aaron found it necessary to speak about her. Already in Sifrei B’midbar 99, we learn that Miriam spoke against Moses because he had refrained from having sexual intercourse with Zipporah ever since God had begun speaking to him face to face. The Rabbis tell us that Miriam and Zipporah had been standing together when the news came that Eldad and Medad were prophesying. Zipporah remarked that she felt pity for their wives, for they would now suffer her fate, meaning that their husbands would no longer sleep with them. Miriam then said to Aaron, “Why does Moses have to behave this way? Has not God also spoken to us, and we have not refrained from sex with our spouses?” (Sifrei B’midbar 99). Obviously the question that bothers the Rabbis here is a contrived one, not actually found in the Bible: namely, the connection between holiness and refraining from sexual activity. It is likely that this discussion originates in rabbinic knowledge of contemporaneous non-Jewish practices that advocated celibacy of religious leaders.
If the wife that Moses took, and about whom Miriam and Aaron spoke, was actually Zipporah, the Rabbis still needed to explain why she was designated as Ethiopian. They explained that the term kushit, usually translated as Ethiopian or Cushite, in fact refers to exceptional beauty. Just as Ethiopians are unusual in their skin color, so was Zipporah unusual to behold (Sifrei B’midbar 99). This interpretation removes from the biblical text any hint of bigotry, but leaves one with the lingering feeling that Ethiopian skin color is at some level an issue.
Much of rabbinic interpretation on this episode is concerned with correct hierarchy and gender ordering. The same midrash that states that it was Miriam who initiated this conversation about Moses’ wife comments that it was unusual for her to speak to her brother Aaron before she was spoken to (Sifrei B’midbar 99). Another early midrash teaches that if Miriam was punished for speaking against her younger brother, one should all the more so refrain from speaking against one’s superiors (Sifrei D’varim 1). Midrash D’varim Rabbah 6:12 notices the absence of the title “prophet” here in connection with Miriam and suggests that this is a warning that slanderous talk brings about loss of status. Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 45.5 cites this episode to denigrate women in general as overly talkative. The import of all these texts is that women are viewed as subordinate to men and that society should endeavor to maintain men’s gendered-based prerogatives.
Yet the Rabbis too are aware of Miriam’s unique status. In Mishnah Sotah 1:9, the notice that “the people did not march on until Miriam was readmitted” (12:15) is interpreted as proof that “a human being is treated according to how that person treats others” (Mishnah Sotah 1:7). Miriam herself had many years earlier waited for her infant brother Moses after his mother had set him afloat in the Nile (Exodus 2:4). For this, according to the Rabbis, she was rewarded at the end of Numbers 12, when the Israelites did not continue their march without her.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; 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, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 21 Sivan through 27 Sivan, we lovingly remember:
Cousin of Rowena Jones, TKH Member
TKH Memorial List
Holocaust Survivor, Author and Nobel Laureate
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, June 9, 2023.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Beha’alotcha: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Time: Jun 9, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jun 9, 2023 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat – Gut Shabbos!
PS – About the Book of Zechariah (Trei Asar)
From Jewish Encyclopedia
Timelines from Wikipedia