B'ha'alotkha: A Summary of the Parashah
The Israelites receive instructions regarding Passover; they journey forth from Sinai and complain to God on several occasions, provoking God's anger; Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses.
The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!
After the sanctification of the Dwelling Place for God, God spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and have him light the menorah so that the seven lights shall cast light.” And Aaron did so.
Then God said to Moses, “Take the Levites and purify them with waters that clear of sin, and make animal and flour offerings to God. Then you shall assemble the whole community and have the Levites come before the Tent of Appointed Meeting.” And it was done.
God spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the second year after their exodus from Egypt. “Let the sons of Israel make Pesach on the fourteenth day of this month, between the two evenings. Even if a man is unclean, the Pesach offering with matzah and bitter herbs must still be made. For one who neglects the Pesach offering to God shall be uprooted from among his people.” And a Pesach offering was made.
On the day that the Dwelling Place was erected, a cloud covered. In the evening, above the Dwelling Place there was a fire-like glow. Only when the cloud rose from the Tent of Appointed Meeting did the sons of Israel journey forth. Only at the place where the cloud settled did the sons of Israel make camp. Even when the cloud remained over the Dwelling Place for many days, the sons of Israel did not journey forth. The cloud came and went for a day, a few days, a year, and each time the Israelites settled and journeyed by way of the utterances of God through Moses.
God then told Moses to “make two silver trumpets for calling the community. Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall blow the trumpets. When the trumpets are blown, the whole community shall come before the Tent of Appointed Meeting. But if they blow only one trumpet, the princes, the heads of the families of Israel, shall come forth. Each blow will indicate a direction for the next journey. When at war with an oppressor, you shall blow the trumpet and you will be remembered before God, and you will be delivered from your enemies. On that day of rejoicing and in your festive season and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets.”
It came to pass in the second year that the cloud rose from its dwelling over the Dwelling Place of the Testimony and the Israelites journeyed forth out of the wilderness of Sinai. When the Ark would journey, Moses said, “Arise, God, and let your foes be scattered, let those who hate You flee from before you.” And when it rested, Moses would say, “Reside tranquilly, O God, among the thousands of Israel.”
But the people took to complaining and that was evil in the ears of God. God’s anger was kindled such that a fire broke out against them and devoured one edge of the camp. And the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to God, and the fire died down. He named the place Taberah because the fire of God had broken out against them.