Parashat B'ha'alotkha

The Connection And Stability Of Blessing

Parashat B'ha'alotkha illustrates three paths of achieving meaning in life--Torah study, connection to the natural world, and strong interpersonal relationships.

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Another aspect of being part of the community involves being content with one’s lot in life. When ungrateful individuals ignored God’s bounty, complaining about the manna and demanding meat, God taught a violent lesson in appreciating all that has been provided.

In addition, when Miriam and Aaron speak badly about Moses regarding his choice of a bride and their perception that he is taking all the credit for his close relationship with God, God strikes Miriam with a skin disease as a punishment for this lashon hara (gossip or slander). Although she is a great leader herself, Miriam is taught that God will not accept her speaking badly about Moses--even if it doesn’t hurt Moses personally. We see that all individuals, no matter who they are or what kind of relationship they enjoy with others, are expected to use only respectful words when speaking of other members of the community.

Different people find various paths to achieving meaning in their personal lives and to contributing to the community in which they live. Three of these paths are explored in this week’s parsha: Torah study (learning, teaching, scholarship), connection to the natural world (environmentalism, the arts, outdoor activities), and the fostering of respectful human relationships (social work, counseling, bringing up a strong, loving family, or simply being a good friend). These are among the paths that lead to a rich life, though there are many others as well. Ultimately, the path leading to deeper meaning is unique to each individual.

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Renanit R. Levy

Renanit Levy is a Program Executive with the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal of UJA-Federation of New York.