Torah Portion: Beha’alotcha “Arrange” B’Midbar(Numbers) 8-12
Haftorah Reading: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
This week we read the Torah portion Beha’alotcha and in it we see many topics that can have a profound spiritual impact on our lives, beginning with the instructions of Aaron to kindle the Lamp stand that stood before the Holy of Holies.
But first, I want to begin with my question this week. My question concerned the request of the men who missed Passover because they were unclean at that appointed time. In the first two verses of Numbers 9, we read where G-d speaks to Moshe telling him to prepare the people to keep the appointed time on its proper day. Immediately after these verses we read where a group of men, who were ritually unclean from being in contact with a dead body, came to Moshe and asked if there was not some way they could participate in the celebration of Passover.
Let us look at this situation and examine it closely. First, we understand that these men would have been well aware of the commandments governing Passover. One stipulation was no unclean person could bring a sacrifice into G-d’s presence. These men had been in contact with a dead person and that carried the highest form of uncleanness. So why would they make this request when they knew what Torah said about it?
Amazingly, we see Moshe go before G-d with their request and as a result, G-d granted it. These men apparently had been involved in a noble cause, possibly burying someone that had died even though they knew this would exclude them from the celebration of Passover, one of the most holy days of the year. Even more interesting, why would they make this request instead of just missing the celebration for one year. They had a perfectly legitimate reason to be exempt from all the preparations of Passover. They could have gone home, kicked back and taken it easy for a few days.
However, that is not the course they chose. Their response was, “why should we be left out?” I think if we consider this story it should speak to our hearts. Rather than being satisfied with doing the minimum, they wanted to serve G-d to the utmost and that involved being a part of the Passover celebration. They show us that the truly appropriate way to serve G-d is to do so because of Who He is and who He has called us to be. The joy of being His child and serving Him over-rides everything else. To carry out the will of the Creator should be the driving force in our daily life, not to just try and get by. Our love of G-d should cause us to see the day as anther opportunity to serve Him and to do His will. We should not settle for the easy way out, for whatever takes the least effort. Our portion is filled with examples of taking the easy way out. We read in Numbers 11 where the people complained about their situation to the point of suggesting Egypt would be better than where they were. There they had fish to eat, cucumbers, melons, leeks and garlic, forgetting the fact they were slaves. How easy it is to forget what G-d has done for us.
We also see in this Torah portion G-d’s attitude about complaining. He dealt swiftly with the complainers by striking them with a plague. As humans, we are prone to complain and if we are not careful that can be how we live and look at our world. However, as people of faith, we must rise above the natural human response to complain and criticize. Everyday our lives are filled with both good things and things that try us. The choice is ours on which we major. If we choose to see each day as filled with bad things and even bad people we end up living in an ugly world where everything goes wrong all the time and everyone we know is less than us. This outlook can cause us a number of problems, both physically and spiritually. In the Messianic writings we see many verses that should speak to us about how we live. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Phil 2:14 and Phil 4:8 gives us a list of things we should meditate on. Complaining is a form of evil speech. (Lashon hara) It has evil results in our lives and in the lives of others.
If we truly believe Romans 8:28 we know G-d is in charge and is working all things out for good. We look at each day as a day G-d has made. Psalms 118:24. We can focus on G-d’s goodness, mercy and grace. Focus on what G-d has done for us and how much He loves us, even when our flesh is tempted to complain and grumble or gossip. Strive to be as the men who missed Passover but did not give up. They looked to G-d who comforted them and provided a way.