Light Shines Brighter……where there is More Darkness.
This portion Beha’alotekha contains many important themes that we can apply today. Judaism teaches us that free will gives us the capacity to think for ourselves. Rabbi Yeshua told us, “Many will be called but few will be chosen”. The Creator may call us for a special purpose, but it is our choice to respond or not. Even believers can be rebellious, causing us to make mistakes when we step outside of the “order” that He created; therefore, we can do teshuva, return to Him and make things right. Other religions teach that all we need to do is ask forgiveness but that is not enough…we need to make restitution. Being part of Israel means that we are in constant conflict with Him simply because He has given us free will; this implies that we can make decisions but then we are responsible for the results. The word acharayut – אַחֲרָיוּת means responsibility and the root cheirut – חֵרוּת, means freedom. A slave has no freedom and therefore cannot be responsible.
In Numbers 11:4 the Hebrew word, אסַפְסֻף asafsoof was translated as the “mixed multitude”, erev rav – עֵרֶב רַב (see Ex. 12:38) by our sages who say these words have the same meaning. In this way, they can blame the foreigners for corrupting the Israelites. Our Creator won’t excuse anyone for his misdeeds simply because he says, “they made me do it!” It is easy to pass the buck. Asafsoof means the rabble who go against the system, justifying their wild behavior because they are victims of an unjust system. Does this sound familiar? Look at the riots and demonstrations happening all over the world today. The order which the Bore Olam set up for humanity to live by is being challenged today just as it was back then. Perhaps the asafsoof were the original cause of the “Antifa” against the leadership of Moshe but the people who participated were the problem because they followed the rabble-rousers.
We see the results in Numbers 11:10: “And Moses heard the people weeping, family by family, every man at the door of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly;” Have you ever lost your temper at the constant complaints of someone who refuses to change their situation but prefers to blame someone or something for their misery? Don’t worry, even the Creator can lose His temper. “…and Moses was “ra’ – רָע” (upset, angry)”. Moshe was fed up with these people who he never wanted to lead in the first place. “14 I am not able to bear all this people myself alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if this is how you deal with me, kill me, I pray Thee, and if I have found favour in your sight; and let me not look upon my בְּרָעָתִי total misery.'” That is when the Creator appointed 72 other men to help Moshe carry his burden. When we have something that is too heavy for us to carry alone, we need to allow others to alleviate it for us. We all go through times when we need to ask for help. Remember that we are not alone; there are people who care and want the best for us. Those who isolate themselves end up depressed and wanting to die. That is what happened with Moshe. Shared leadership can be the strength of a true leader.
Chapter 12 deals with a matter of prejudice, envy and racism which is seen in the world today. The Creator wants us to deal with our prejudices and to be good to those weaker than ourselves, opposite to the ideology of the survival of the fittest. Miriam and Aaron gossiped about Moshe concerning the Cushite (Ethiopian) woman, Moshe’s second wife. They envied the position that the Creator had given Moshe; after all, weren’t they also prophets? How many of us do the same, instead of being glad for others? The Torah says that Moses was the meekest of men, trusted by the Creator and with whom the Creator spoke mouth to mouth פֶּה אֶל-פֶּה. (Num. 12:3,7) It means the Creator conversed directly with Moshe, so how could they dare speak against His servant? And again, His anger was inflamed so that when the cloud lifted, Miriam was full of leprosy which is why our sages say that leprosy is a direct result of lashon hara’, evil tongue or gossip. Aaron immediately acknowledged their sin and begged Moshe to pray for her to be healed. He was told to put Miriam outside of the camp for seven days where she suffered the consequences of her sin. After she was healed and brought back, we don’t hear much from her again. She had learned her lesson. The fact that the people didn’t abandon her, is an important lesson for us to learn as well. It is easy to judge others as if we are innocent.
Moshe learned that he needed to share his burdens with others for the good of all. A good leader walks together with his people, not judging others but helping them to improve. He may fail because he is human, but failure is not an excuse for him to give up. He can thank those who still accept his leadership because they know that we all fail. In Judaism we say, “An intelligent person learns from his own mistakes, but a wise person learns from the mistakes of others.”
In this day and age, when the world seems to be going insane, we all have the opportunity to think for ourselves. Don’t listen to the “gossip” of those in the media who want to destroy someone. Let us be wise and diligently search for the facts instead of believing rumors. We are all together in this community, continuing through good and bad times. We are not alone and the path that we are on is difficult because we are swimming against the tide, and we are not popular in our moral stances. It is easier to follow those who are anti-system, the asafsoof who are trying to destroy “order”. The parashah begins with the menorah. We are the menorah, the light in a dark room. Light shines brighter where there is more darkness. Let us not be afraid but stand up for what is right, good and true. Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof – צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף. Justice, Justice, we must pursue justice.