Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Parshat Behaalotecha.

Why Do We Miss Out!?

In this week’s Torah Portion appears the episode of the ‘Second passover. There were certain individuals who had become ritually impure. And could therefore not prepare the Passover offering in its proper time. They approached Moses and Aaron ... and said: "...Why should we be deprived and not be able to present G‑d's offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?"

The Torah goes on to describe how G‑d responded to their plea by establishing a "Second Passover" on the 14th of Iyar (exactly one month after the original Passover), to serve as a second opportunity for all who were "ritually impure, or on a distant road."

Herein lies a lesson for each one of us: A group of Jews had found themselves in a state which, by divine decree, absolved them from the duty to bring the Passover offering. Yet they refused to accept that this avenue of relationship with G‑d should be closed to them. And their impassioned plea and demand, "Why should we be deprived?", swayed G‑d to establish a new institution, the "Second Passover," to enable them, and all who will find themselves in a similar situation to "present G‑d's offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel."

So too us, for more than nineteen hundred years, our Passovers have been incomplete. A central component of the festival observances—the Passover offering—is absent from our seder table. We must refuse to reconcile ourselves to the decree of galut. G‑d desires and expects that we storm the gates of heaven with the plea and demand: "Why shall we be deprived?!"
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The Job of a Jew

Behaalotecha begins with the command to Aaron to kindle the Menorah in the Sanctuary. The Menorah symbolizes the Jewish people, for the purpose of every Jew’s existence is to spread divine light throughout the world, as it is written: “The soul of man is the lamp of G‑d.” With the light of the Torah, and the candle of mitzvot, we illuminate our surrounding environment.

The Menorah extends upward in seven branches, which symbolize seven different paths of divine service. And yet it was made of a single piece of gold. This shows that the various different qualities that characterize the Jewish people do not detract from their fundamental unity. Diversity need not lead to division, and the development of true unity comes from a synthesis of different thrusts, every person expressing his own unique talents and personality.

Not only does the Menorah point to the importance of every individual, the manner in which it was kindled underscores the need for independent effort. This concept is reflected in the literal meaning of the phrase the Torah uses when relaying G‑d’s command to kindle the Menorah: “When you raise up the lamps.” Rashi explains that this means the priest should apply the flame to the wick “until the flame rises on its own,” and shines independently.
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The Journey of Exile

This week’s Torah reading relates the journeys of the Jewish people through the desert. After camping at Sinai for more than a year, they broke camp and began the trek to Eretz Yisrael. Our Sages explain that these journeys reflect an eternal pattern. In a larger sense, they can be understood as describing a paradigm that exists throughout our nation’s history. The entry into Eretz Yisrael represents the culmination of the process, the coming of Mashiach.

In this vein, our Rabbis note that the desert is called “the desert of the nations” and compare our people’s journey through it to their journey through “the desert of the nations” in our 2000 years of exile.

On the journey through the desert, the ark would be carried before the people. It’s like a child learning to walk. He stands. His parents stand somewhat away from him and the child steps toward them. As he proceeds forward, they take a step backward, maintaining eye-contact with him and leading him forward.

This was the pattern in which the ark led the people through the desert and this is the pattern, albeit without the conscious connection, with which G‑d is leading us on our collective journey until, together with Mashiach, we return to Eretz Yisrael.
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A Barren Desert

At Mount Sinai, the Jews received the Torah and soon after constructed the Sanctuary there. Yet, our people did not remain content with having achieved these spiritual heights. Rather than resting on their laurels and staying in the desert where G‑d provided for all their needs, they set out on a mission — to journey to Eretz Yisrael.

The desert is barren and desolate. Yet as the Jews traveled through the desert, they transformed it, albeit temporarily, into a settled land, a place where crops, trees, and even flowers grew. For the Jews did not travel empty-handed. With them, they took the Torah that they had been given and the Sanctuary that they had constructed. G‑d’s presence, which rested within the Sanctuary, and which is given expression in our lives, brought about these positive changes in the surroundings in which they lived.

The Baal Shem Tov explains that the journeys of the Jewish people through the desert are reflected in the journeys of every individual through life. Some of the phases that we pass through may appear barren and desolate. Nevertheless, we must appreciate that this is only the external setting in which we are placed. It should not reflect our inner state — for G‑d’s presence accompanies us at all times and the Torah is with us in all surroundings. This fills our lives with inner meaning and depth which in turn empowers us to be outward oriented. We can change the environments in which we live and cultivate their growth and development.
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Every Home a Temple

G‑d commanded Aaron the high priest to kindle the menorah which stood in the Holy Temple every day and to ensure that it always remained lit. In an address to children, the Rebbe reminds us that the Torah calls the Jewish people “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Every single Jew, especially children, must use the menorah’s message to brighten the exile and hasten the redemption: