This Sabbath’s parashah is called “B’Haalotechah” (Meaning: Upon your going up/ascending). You will find this week’s section in the Book of Numbers 8:1-12:16. Although the parashah deals with many details concerning the ancient tabernacle (Mishchan) by juxtaposing the section’s beginning and end, we go beyond its dry details and facts and discover profound lessons about human nature.
The section begins with G-d ordering: “V’amerta elav, b’haalotechah el ha’nerot….You (Moses) shall say to him (Aaron) when you go up to light the candles…(8:2).
The careful reader will immediately note that the verb used is ha’alotech (go up) rather than hadlik (kindle, light). How come? Why is there a verbal substitution? Is it that the candles (light) represent the goodness in humanity, its potential ability to reach great heights, to do great things? Is the text teaching us that the job of a leader is to rise above the crowd, to light the path, to bring out the best in each of us?
Towards the parashah’s end, we see the opposite. Chapter 11:1 reads “Vayhi ha’am k’mitonnanim/the people were continuously complaining about something”. The word used for the crowds of complainers is “asafsuf”. The word seems to indicate a mass of people who are never satisfied, who do not know how to end a debate or political discussion. In other words, this is a crowd of people is addicted to complaining and arguing. It simply cannot bring anything to its conclusion.
Placed together we see two very different types of people. There are those who reach beyond themselves, who seek to make life meaningful, and who solve problems. There are, however, others, who choose to be part of the asafsuf, the multitudes who live in darkness, who know how to complain, but offer no solutions or conclusions. To paraphrase the Book of Ecclesiastes: there is a time to begin and a time to end. Both are necessary.
This week’s parashah teaches us to aim high, continually set new goals for ourselves, to demand excellence from ourselves and from our leadership. It also reminds us that when debate continues ad-infinitum, then progress ceases. The challenge of this week’s parashah is “what are we?” Are we a nation of doers or complainers? To we merely present problems or do we seek solutions?
This Week’s Parashah on Youtube and Podcast:
Hear a discussion on this week’s parashah on youtube:
Via our podcast at:
Musical Youtubes of the week:
Songs of Summer
English: Summertime from Porgy and Bess:
Spanish: Una Canción para niños: