Moses has set up the tabernacle and consecrated it. Now he consecrates all the Levi’im as separated for God, in place of all the firstborn that God destroyed in Egypt.
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We are told how the camp would remain where they were when the cloud remained over the Tabernacle, and how they travelled when the cloud moved. No matter how long the cloud stayed, or how long it kept moving, the people did as the cloud led them.
The people complained, as always, about no meat and how they had it better in Egypt, so Moses asks God to just kill him if he has to continue to deal with all these complaints. God tells Moses to pick out 70 trustworthy men and they will share the load with Moses, as God will place some of the spirit he gave to Moses on them.
The order of march is given to us, so we know how the people moved, who was first and who was last, and the final chapter deals with when Miriam and Aaron complained against Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. The punishment God meted out was to cause Tzara’at (leprosy) to appear on Miriam. Moses immediately prayed for her to be cured, and God did that, but also shut her outside the camp for a week.
There are some interesting things in here, at least, interesting to me.
One is the giving of the spirit to the 70 elders in the camp. Even though two of them did not appear with the others at the Tabernacle, as Moses had told them, they also received the spirit. That makes me wonder if they refused to come, or just forgot, or had something else come up. In any case, God did what Moses asked him to do, even though it seems that these two refused to be part of it.
But that’s not the only thing I wondered about- we are told in Exodus 18 that Moses’ father-in-law suggests delegating authority to others to take the load off of Moses in dealing with disputes, and even goes as far as to tell Moses that God commands it. Every time I read that passage, I wondered, “How did Jethro know God commanded it?”
And now, here in this parashah, we see that God does command Moses to pick 70 men to help him in dealing with the people, so is this the same event?
In this parashah we also read that Moses asks his brother-in-law to stay with the people as they travel. To me, it makes sense that when Jethro brought his wife and children out to Moses that maybe other members of the family came with them. If so, then the brother-in-law could have been there when Jethro made his suggestion to Moses.
I don’t know, absolutely, if these two Torah stories are the same event, but it seems so to me. After all, it is no secret that the books of the Torah are not in strict chronological order, and some events are repeated in different books.
Another part of this particular parashah that I love is the last chapter, Chapter 12, where Miriam and Aaron speak out against Moses. Not because of what happened, but because this parashah is the passage I read at my Bar Mitzvah, which I had on the same day I celebrated my 13th birthday, and guess what today is?
That’s right. Of course, it was quite a while ago that I was 13, but this is the very passage I read on this same day of the year, all those many years ago.
And I constantly use this particular Torah story when talking about praying. Especially when people pray on and on, or ask God to heal someone specifying exactly, in inordinate detail, what God should do in order to heal them.
I believe we should ask God for help by following Moses’ example. Here we have Moses seeing his big sister white as death, yet in his shock and anguish at her fate, all he says is:
“Oh God, I beg you, please, heal her!” (CJB)
That’s all he said, and I believe it is because he trusted God to know what to do.
That’s called faith!
We should demonstrate that level of trust and faith, ourselves, when asking God to help someone. Wordiness is not faithfulness, and going an-and-on-and-on is not going to make God any more inclined to do something.
And I have to consider (disagree if you will) that God, as patient as he is, when someone is telling him how to heal and what to do and where to do it, he has to be thinking something along the lines of:
“Really? You think I don’t know what to do? “
So today’s message is this: trust in God to know what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and even if it should be done.
When it comes to asking God for anything, I go by the old KISS rule:
Keep It Simple, Schlemiel!
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!