Parashat Beha’alotcha!

Dear Friends;

I hope that you’ll enjoy the following Parasha summary followed by a Dvar Torah;

” Parsha in a Nutshell ”

Aaron is commanded to raise light in the lamps of the menorah, and the tribe of Levi is initiated into the service in the Sanctuary.

A “Second Passover” is instituted in response to the petition “Why should we be deprived?” by a group of Jews who were unable to bring the Passover offering in its appointed time because they were ritually impure. G-d instructs Moshe on the procedures for Israel’s journeys and encampments in the desert.

The people are dissatisfied with their “Heavenly Bread” (the manna) and demand that Moses supply them with meat. Moshe appoints 70 elders, by divine order, to assist him in the burden of governing the people.

Miriam speaks negatively of Moshe and is punished with “Tzaraat”; Moshe prays for her healing with the famous expression: “El Na Refa Na Lah”, which means:”Please G-d, heal her now.” The entire community waits seven days for her recovery.

” Dvar Torah ”

It always made me wonder about the motivation of someone who runs a marathon and comes in last. The charming couple in their sixties, strolling together towards the finish line–what made them do it? Each year, some 36,000 people line up to participate in the New York City Marathon, a grueling 26-mile route that snakes through all five Boroughs of the city. Of those thousands, only one will come out in front. Why do people run the marathon, knowing that they have no chance of coming in one of the top ten, top hundred or even the top thousand? Why do we still see the great joy on the face of the person who finishes at 35,898th position?! What’s the difference between the person who finishes last and the spectator who is just standing on the side line?

Well, the answer is quite simple. The people who run the marathon race, their aim is not to finish first, but rather, their aim is to just be a part of the race. For them, just completing the marathon itself is a badge of honor and pride, even if they finish last in the race.

In this week’s Parsha, the Torah describes the encampment of the Benei Yisrael in the desert. After hearing the sounds of the silver trumpets, the twelve tribes of Israel packed up their camp, lined up in designated order, and marched forth to their next destination. The tribe of Dan always marched last.

Their job was to bring up the rear and gather up any objects left behind; from missing socks, perhaps, all the way to lost children. They picked up after everyone else. It was not a very glorious role. Not nearly as impressive as leading the tribes, like Judah, or carrying the holy vessels like the Levites. But it was a job that needed to get done. They were dedicated to their job and they did never complain. They were just happy to be part the “race”, the race to serve Hashem!

And in addition to run a baggage claim department, the Danites also acted as a role model to the rest of the tribes. They were respected by the rest of the tribes because they never lost perspective. They showed everyone the importance of caring about other people’s property and be sensitive towards others. Those tribes who were the leaders or had an important job such as carrying the Mishkan, sometimes they would have become “baalei gaava”–haughty and they could have lost perspective. They would forget that it is Hashem who has given them their leadership positions. But by looking at the tribe of Dan and seeing how dedicated they are to their jobs, they learned to be humble again. The Danites, although were in last place, but they stayed focus to their job and were happy with what they were assigned to. They did what needed to be done and took care of the needs of others. With a wonderful blend of self-esteem, they felt no need to get ahead. They took pride in what they did and they were extremely happy just to be part of Hashem’s army!

Yes my friends, life is like a marathon race! The aim is not to finish first, but rather, the aim is just to be part of the race. And let’s not loose perspective. The race in life is not about who can accumulate more capital in their lifetime, nor is it about who can take the leadership positions, but the race is all about who can serve Hashem and be part of Hashem’s army. We are the Chosen people and we need to stay the Chosen people! This means that we have to follow Hashem’s commandments. But it doesn’t mean that we have to lead the race! Not everyone has to become Rabbis and great Talmid Chachams. Everyone can run at its own pace. As long as we try to do the best we can and we stay focused to our responsibilities as a Jew, we are doing fine. We started the race as a Jew and we have to finish the race as a Jew. Let’s not stop in the middle!

So my friends, take pride in being a Jew, be proud to be part of the race and be happy that you are not a spectator on the side line just like the rest of the world!

Shabbat Shalom & Regards;