weekly Torah reading: parasha Beha’alotecha 5783
– 5th aliyah (Numbers 10:11-34)
“And it came to pass in the second year, in the second month on the twentieth day of the month, that the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle of the testimony.” – Numbers 10:11, JPS 1917 Tanach
Ten days under a year after arriving at the base of Mount Sinai, the encampment received Holy Word to pack up gear and move on: for “the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of the Testimony” (Numbers 10:11). Thus, the Divine Sign was given to journey to the next encampment, location to be announced. The twelve tribes of Israel proceeded to move out in a predetermined, orderly fashion. This included the three Levite families transporting the accoutrements of the Mishkan.
Moshe’s father-in-law, Yisro is invited to accompany B’nei Yisrael on their journey. He is referred to in this passage as “Hobab,” from the word for “love,” seemingly so, because he was given a new name upon becoming part of Israel. Yet, he appears to decline the offer. Even so, Moshe entreats him (10:32), saying that he will receive the same bounty that is received by Israel. Although the Torah remains silent on whether or not he accompanied them at that time, it appears that he did. Indeed, his descendants were eventually given a tract of land near Jericho.
On our own journeys through life, as we move from one place to another, whether physically, or spiritually there is not always as much fanfare as there was within the parameters given for B’’nei Yisrael’s departures. The cloud would ascend, the trumpets were blown, and the banners for each tribe waved in the air as the procession began. Yet, in consideration of our inclusion with K’lal Yisrael (All of Israel), we may attach ourselves to the moadim (the appointed times) on the Hebrew calendar, committing ourselves to proceed throughout the year, according to the various events commemorated as a people. This is our heritage.
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