Torah Portion Beha’alotcha Num 8:1- 12:16

Beha’alotcha is Hebrew for “When you  light”), referring to Aaron’s responsibilities for lighting the Menorah at the Tabernacle.

Summary: Aaron is to light the Menorah.  The Levites are to be cleansed and treated like a wave offering, with the commensurate burnt and sin offerings, prior to their performing their Temple duties.  Levites are to serve from the ages of 25 to 50.  Hebrews who could not observe Passover on the holiday schedule because they were ritually impure (e.g, they had come in contact with the dead) may do so a month later.  The Children of Israel  travel with a cloud to lead during the day and a column of fire at night.   But if the cloud is on the Tabernacle, they stay encamped.  YHVH instructs Moses to have two silver trumpets made to be used to muster the troops.  When the cloud lifted, the Children of Israel traveled to Moab.  Moses’ father-in-law (now referred to as Hobab) returns to Moses who asks him to journey with him, but Hobab apparently declines.  Some of the people were fomenting an overthrow (“evil in the ears of YHVH”), and they were destroyed by fire.  Moses prayed on their behalf and the anger of YHVH abated.  The mixed multitude that left Egypt also caused problems by proclaiming a need to eat more than manna.  Moses can no longer deal with all the complaining and he asks YHVH to kill him.  Instead, G-d instructs Moses to gather 70 elders to the Tent of Meeting, and G-d will descend and share Moses’ burden with them.  G-d will also give people so much food for a month that they will be sickened by it.  The 70 elders gathered and experienced the ecstasy of prophecy, including 2 men, Eldad and Medad, who had remained in the camp.  Joshua wanted the two of them to be punished. But Moses declined.  In fulfillment of the prophecy to provide a surfeit of meat, YHVH sends quail.  When the people ate it, they died of a plague.  Even Miriam and Aaron foment discord against Moses.  YHVH punishes Miriam with leprosy.  Moses prays for her healing, and in seven days she is cured.  When Miriam is restored to the camp, the Children of Israel continue their travels.