Parashah B’haalotecha 2021 (When you light) Numbers 8 – 12

This parashah begins with the anointing of the tribe of Levi to perform the service of the Sanctuary. They are washed and all Israel lays their hands on them, then the Levites laid their hands on and sacrificed a bull and a burnt offering. God reminds Moses to tell the people that the firstborn of everything belongs to the Lord, but that he has substituted the Levites for those who are firstborn.

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When some who were unclean to celebrate the Pesach asked Moses why they shouldn’t get to participate, he asks God for help. God says that those unable to celebrate in the month of Aviv (now called Nissan) can celebrate it on the 14th day of the following month (Iyar.)

We are told how the people traveled based on the cloud over the Sanctuary: when it moved, they moved. We are also given the rules for the silver trumpets. Moses’ father-in-law is asked to join the people and it sounds like he refuses to go with them. But in Judges 1:16, we are told that the descendants of Moses’ father-in-law went from the City of Date Palms (Jericho) with the tribe of Judah into the desert of Yehuda, so it seems that he did travel with the people.

The people kvetch, which may have been initiated by the Gentiles with them (Numbers 11:4), about not having meat and Moses cries to God asking that he kill him instead of having to make him endure these constant complaints. God places some of the spirit he had given to Moses on 70 of the Elders to help out, and then sent quails to appease the hunger of the people. But, no sooner had they started to eat, then a plague God sent killed many of them, as punishment for their complaining and faithlessness.

In Chapter 12, we read how Aaron and Miriam spoke out against Moses for taking an Ethiopian woman as his wife, and God punished Miriam by giving her leprosy. Moses begs God to heal her, and God makes her stay outside of the camp (after healing her) for 7 days. Aaron, on the other hand, isn’t stricken with the disease. Most likely this is because as Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) he couldn’t become unclean for that long a time. But it seems that he was scared to death when he saw what happened to Miriam.

This chapter has special meaning to me because this was the parashah reading I did for my Bar Mitzvah.

I mentioned above that in Numbers 11:4 we are told the people complained how they missed eating meat, and also craved the vegetables and spices that they had in Egypt. To me, this is an example of the difficulty of being set apart, as well as having to be set apart while still living in a dark and faithless world.

The lesson for today is simple: salvation is free and easy to get, but costly and difficult to keep.

To be forgiven of our sin and set up for life eternal, all we have to do is confess our sins, repent of them and accept Yeshua (Jesus) as our Messiah, asking for forgiveness by means of his sacrifice. If we do that and mean it (yes- you DO have to mean it! God isn’t stupid, you know) then we will be forgiven.

That’s the easy part, now for the hard part.

Once you accept Yeshua as your Messiah, you are grafted into the chosen people of God and an adopted child of Abraham (Romans 11); as such, you are to be treated just like all the other chosen people (Exodus 12:49), which means not only do you receive the same rights as they do under the law but you are expected to obey that law, just as they do.

In other words, to be a child of Abraham and grafted onto the Tree of Life, you must draw from the root of that tree, which is the Torah.

You can’t have salvation without the obligation to obey God’s instructions.

And, to make things even harder, just as the Israelites in the desert had Gentiles with them who complained, influencing them to complain as well, in the world we have faithless and evil people who will try to influence us to join them in their sin.

As I often say, it is very hard to work in a fish market all day and not come home smelling of fish. Likewise, living in the world and trying to remain free of its stench is what makes being set apart so difficult to maintain.

And it is costly, in that many Believers have lost friends and been ostracized by family for their beliefs.

But you must maintain your separation! That doesn’t mean going from home to shul or church, and nowhere else, or never talk to anyone but other Believers; no, it means going into the darkness to be the light we are but not allowing the darkness to overcome you.

How can that be done? Through constantly recharging your spiritual battery by communing with other Believers, by choosing to stay faithful to what you have learned from reading God’s word, which you should do every day, and by constantly looking for God’s blessings in your life, which confirm you are on the right track.

That’s right- sometimes we have to look really hard to see the blessings, often disguised as bad things happening to us because God always blesses those who obey him (this is his promise in Deuteronomy 28) and he always answers prayer, although very often it isn’t what you expect or when you expect it.

If you would like to know more about prayer, please get my book, “Prayer: What It Is and How It Works”. It is available on Amazon and there is a link to it on my website.

We are to be holy as God is holy, which means set apart from the world, even though we still have to live in the world. That is the hard part- working with fish but not smelling like one, and the only way to do that is to keep washing with the blood of the Messiah and cleaning your hands with God’s word, which will also keep your spirits up and your mind cleansed.

Salvation cannot be taken away, but we can throw it away. To avoid doing that, even by mistake, we must obey God’s instructions in the Torah and not what some Rabbi says in the Talmud or what some Apostle says in a letter.

It is what God says that counts.

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Comments welcomed (just be nice)