Beha’alotcha means to elevate. This terminology was used instead of beh-hadlikatcha – to light. G-d elevated Aharon, the high priest, by appointing him to prepare and light the Menorah. In the last Parsha, the nesi’im (leaders) of the twelve tribes inaugurated the Mishkan’s alter (Temple) with their sacrifices. It seemed the Levy tribe was left out. Apparently, G-d has saved the best for last. This honor, lighting the Menorah, will be passed down through generations of Kohanim, most notable, the Maccabees. The Maccabees were victorious over the Greeks who wanted to destroy the Jews spiritually. G-d is hinting, by the kohanim gaining elevation through doing this particular commandment, that the Jews through the generations will always get spiritually elevated.
For the most part, in all the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people, the tribe of Levy always remained loyal and never doubted G-d. This is true whether it be in Egypt or the incident of the golden calf or many other occasions. As a reward, they were chosen to be G-d’s messengers, or a more appropriate term, liaison, between G-d and the Jews. The job was taken away from the first born who failed to prevent the golden calf disaster to occur and given to them.
- There was a group of fine good samaritan Jews who came to Moshe and to Aharon to voice a complaint. “We are impure, because as agents of the Jewish nation, we guarded and carried the coffin of Yossef. Should we be deprived of the mitzvah (commandment) of the Pesach sacrifice because we carried the coffin on behalf of the community?” The law is that someone who is impure cannot bring a Pesach offering. G-d then instructed the laws of Pesach Sheni, the second or minor Pesach. If a Jew is impure or is far from the sanctuary, he offers a sacrifice on the Fourteenth day of the month of Iyar, a month later. Today, we commemorate Pesach Sheni by eating Matzoh on the fourteenth of Iyar. Just like G-d showered brachot at those who did His commandments with sincerity and self-sacrifice to an extent where he added a second Pesach on their behalf. So too He should he look at us with favor for doing His commandments.
- G-d was impressed with the Jews of the desert having to move sometimes on the spur of the moment. It is most difficult to travel (schlep) with children and the elderly and, one can just imagine, the Israelites did it quite often in the wilderness without complaint. They followed the cloud of glory which has instructed, and was their compass. This trait remained with us as we are called the “traveling Jews”. It’s quite important not to lose ourselves, not to lose our identity on business trips or vacations. We still have to maintain the same degree of excellence and modesty as our ancestors did in the desert.
Moshe’s status was one similar to a king. Therefore, G-d instructed that trumpets be made on His behalf. Two trumpets were made, both out of silver, and they were exactly identical. The trumpets were blown by each departure in the wilderness, as well as assembly callings. Later, they were blown when the Israelites were going into battle against their enemies. Music, or more accurately in this case, instrumental sounds, were made to arouse the people and to get them in the proper frame of mind. These trumpets were hidden before Moshe’s death and never found.
Yitro informs Moshe, his son-in-law, of his plans to return to Midyan. Although he converted to Judaism and was extremely sincere in belief in G-d, Yitro had an un-orthodox way of strengthening his belief in Judaism. He put himself in challenging situations, daring, and testing himself constantly. While many of us, and evidently so, try to protect ourselves by living in a Jewish neighborhood and sending our children to Yeshivot, Yitro put himself in un-spiritual dangerous situations and conquered his evil side, escaping unscathed. He was one of the extreme minority to be successful in this philosophy; a unique person with tremendous gifts. This explains how he was able to persuade Moshe to permit his son to travel with his grandfather. He expected his grandson to be strong like himself. Although Yitro was able to overcome, his grandson was not as fortunate.
- There is a prayer we say every time we open the Ark, “Vayehi binsoah Aron”. This prayer is recited every time we open the ark to take out the Sefer Torah. It’s strange, the Maharsha gives an answer why there is an inverted form of the letter nun. Just like in the prayer Ashrai which is composed of consecutive letters of the entire alef bet with the exception of the nun; the reason is, nun represents nefila – fall of Israel. Similarly, here, the nun represents the downfall of Israel. G-d shows through the inverted letters that He will turn the downfall nun into a triumphant rise.
- The Israelites, in the desert, were eating mann, heavenly food. However, this was not enough. Some bad apples in the basket influenced the rest. The nation started to complain of lack of food and a shortage of meat. They complained, “We had such delicious tasting meats in Egypt, and those days are sorely missed.” G-d got angry and punished them accordingly. Sometimes what one wants is not what he needs. In fact, that ‘want’ could eventually be the punishment itself. He instructed Moshe to tell the people they will have meat for thirty days straight.
- G-d punished the people with death after an abundance of quails landed at their doorstep and they ate.
- The laws of speaking negative about someone is not a double standard; it applies to all whether it be the leaders as well.
Credit to: Rabbi Avi Matmon