Torah Portion: Beha’alotcha (When You Lift Up) B’midbar(Numbers) 8:1-12:16 Haftorah Reading Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Tonight, our reading covers a wide range of subjects. We begin with the instructions for lighting the golden menorah in the Mishkan or Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. We also read of the men who came to Moshe and pleaded for a chance to keep Passover since they were unclean from being in contact with a dead body during the holiday. This portion also covers the order the tribes were to be in when it came time, at G-d’s direction, for them to move.
First, I would like to start with the question I sent you this week asking for your definition of humility or how would you describe a humble person. What would you say are the characteristics of a humble person? When I read B’Midbar/Numbers 12:3 and thought about Moshe and his life, and by extension my own life, I pondered exactly what is a humble person? How would they act in any given situation? Then I thought about the times in which we live. What does society teach us and our children about what is important in life?
I read a quote from a Charles Dickens book this week that gives some insight into what is not humility. A character in one of his books made this statement: “I am the humblest person going.” What does that statement tell us about humility? If we brag about our humility, it in of itself shows we are not humble. If we think we have no worth are we being humble? If we always given in to others because of our lowly opinion of ourselves is that humility?
Humility is the orphaned virtue of our age. Some of this has been caused by the breakdown of the sense of community and family. Community is a place of friends, where we know everyone else. Our society today is mainly a landscape of strangers. The human urge is to feel important, to be needed, to make a statement, to stand out. We have personalized license plates, we sometimes choose clothing styles that stand out. We don’t take anything off of anyone. Have you ever heard, “If you’ve got it flaunt it.” Being humble or having a true virtue of humility has been largely lost. Yet, for us as G-d’s people, it is the most important quality we can cultivate. True humility is to be aware of the truth that there is something greater than ourselves. There is a power that is always there for us, to do more through us than we ever expected we could do on our own. That power is G-d Almighty. He loves us, knows us by name, and cares about how we live. Humility then is the realization that when we are open and quiet before Him we can hear His whisper to us, calling us to step out in Him.
One of the answers I received this week spoke about several verses that might help us. Micah 6:8, Deut. 10:12 and Matt. 4:19. In these and other verses the L-rd is calling us to trust Him, lean on Him and He will supply us with everything we need spiritually. Think of Moshe’s life for a moment. He left Egypt as a murderer. When G-d called him he didn’t go without making excuses for why someone else would be better. Is that true humility? Throughout his life, leading the children of Israel, he dealt with a quarrelsome people. But through prayer he learned to lean on G-d for his help. Does anyone remember a time in Moshe’s journey that he lost his humility? Remember when he struck the rock rather than speaking to it as G-d requested. As a result, he was not allowed to enter the Land.
G-d calls us to a humble life, a life of lifting others up when they are down, a life of being completely sold out to Him. We see Yeshua living that life as Messiah. He touched people and lifted them up. He called people to follow Him, to emulate Him and how He lived here on this earth. Matt. 4:19 makes this point for us. Without the Father we can do little of lasting value, but with Him, submitted to Him, we can do everything He calls us to do. In some ways, the verses in Numbers 9:6-7 make the point of being sold out to follow Him.
Passover had passed, however these men were not allowed to join in the festival because they were ritually unclean from being in contact with a dead body. They could have just let it go. They had a good excuse. However, that was not what they did. They went to Moshe and asked him to petition G-d on their behalf. They did not want to miss out on the holiday. G-d told Moshe they could celebrate Passover the following month. These men did not want to miss an opportunity to be close to G-d and to worship Him. They must have had a deep understanding of the importance of not missing an opportunity to be with the Father even when they had an excuse to do so. May we all pursue holiness like these men.
Lastly, we read of the marching orders of the people when they moved their camp. We see that the tribe of Dan was to be the last to leave. Interestingly, they were the only tribe that scripture spoke of what their mission was. In Numbers 10:25 it says their role was to be the collectors of lost items, things forgotten. The Hebrew word is “Maasof” which means collectors. This was not a glamorous job like Judah had. Judah was first in line, leading the march. However, Dan was an example of living a humble life of helping restore lost items to their owners, picking up the pieces so to speak. So are we called to help people to pick up the pieces of life, to restore them with G-d’s help. May we spend our days being G-d’s instruments of restoration.