1. The Levi shaves his entire body. This is a massive difference from the Nazir who grows his hair. Why? These are two distinct paths to holiness. The Levi is designated as Holy by Hashem. As part of this, they lose part of their individuality in order to fit Hashem’s designation and serve as holy flight attendant for Hashem on behalf of the Children of Israel. But the Nazir designates himself. He individually distinguishes himself from the community. So his hair, which accents his individuality, can not be banned. For this distinction, the Nazir earns the crown of Hashem – but only temporarily. In his pursuit of holiness he has separated himself from the community.
  2. Why is there a plague if the people approach? It is all tied into the story of the first born. The first born, not the Leviim were supposed to represent the Jewish people to Hashem. They were cut off from the role because of the Golden Calf. What was the sin of the Golden Calf? They made an amalgamated G-d – in essence their worshipped their own peoplehood. The Leviim responded by standing up for G-d. The Jewish people, prone to self-worship, are incompatible with the tremendous Kedusha of the Mishkan. Why is there a plague and not just a punishment for those who approach? Because the amalgamated god represented the sin of the people brought together, not individuals. Plague doesn’t target individuals, but affects the whole people.
  3. The Exodus is the first of the 5 Commandments dealing with G-d just as murder is the first of the 5 Commandments dealing with people. Hashem exists in our world because we remember the Exodus. As were designated as a nation by marking our doors with the blood of the Pesach offering, we can see that the core of the Jewish people is service as witnesses of Hashem bringing us out of Egypt. An individual who fails to offer the Pesach offering cuts themselves off from the nation.
  4. The trumpet is one of three hammered items (Menorah and Cherubim being the others). As I’ve mentioned earlier, these reflect the bringing down of heavenly spiritual reality into our world. The shofar itself is the note of revelation. With this blowing, we have long blasts and short blasts. Long blasts assemble the people to Hashem. Short move the tribes in order. The longest blast occurs on Har Sinai. The lesson here is that Hashem instructs us with the long blasts. And then we respond with our own holy notes – the short blasts. Our short blasts, powered with our own Ruach HaKodesh, make his overall command a reality in our world. It is a spiritual echo.
  5. Why do we detail this move so precisely? The answer is given at the end. The Holy Aron moves ahead 3 days on a 3 day journey. In essence, it teleports ahead. Why? To search for a place of Menucha – comfort. At the end of the last Parsha we saw Moshe hearing a voice from between the Keruvim. The last time the Keruvim were active was in setting up the barrier to Gan Eden. He hears the voice from Gan Eden. Here, those same Keruvim adopt the Aron are searching for comfort for the Jewish people. At least temporarily, they are providing the Jewish people with Eden.
  6. But it doesn’t go well. The Hebrew word for the craving of the Jews is Toava. It last appears with Chava, who was in a similar state of comfort. It is the condition that occurs when all your needs are taken care of. It is like children whose needs are taken care of and who aren’t driven to do more. They crave – they do stupid things. And indeed, we see exactly that here, Moshe even compares the Jewish people to babies. If we, G-d willing, find ourselves in a state of comfort, we should actively seek our opportunities to add and create. Addition is the alternative.
  7. What does Hashem compare Miriam to? A daughter who should be ashamed because her father has spit in her face. She is also a child with the same problem as the people. But she craves not food or (as many Rabbis argue) sex. She craves status. It is why she suffers Tzaras (which we diagnosed as being based on conceit in an earlier parsha). Hashem compares her and Aaron to Moshe. The meekest or most humble of people. Why is he humble? Specifically because he isn’t conceited or status seeking. Just before, when Eldad and Medad were prophesying in the camp – he encouraged it. He is humble, or meek and soft spoken, in that he never seeks one-upmanship or craving. If the judges are to hate money, Moshe is the greatest of them. And when tasked by G-d himself with a headline job, he demures repeatedly. It is what makes him great. He isn’t a child out to satisfy a craving, even for status. He is a man out to create and bring meaning to the nation. He alone can be trusted.
    1. A often asked question is what Miriam and Aaron were criticizing. In fact, they were just seeking status. Race was an easy way of getting it. They criticized Moshe for marrying a black woman – and thus making them comparatively better. Status-seeking was a biblical cause of racism.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *