Parsha of the week

Beha'alotecha ("When you step up")

Numbers 8:1-12:16

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

* A second Passover is given to those who were unable to commemorate earlier.

* In an ancient form of "morse code," instructions are given on the sounding of the shofar as an alarm in times of war.

* God instructs Moses on the procedures for Israel's journeys and encampments in the desert, and the people journey in tribal formation from Mount Sinai, where they had been camped for nearly a year.

* Moses deals with a grumbling people who are missing the food in Egypt and complains about how difficult it is to lead. 70 Elders are appointed to assist him

In one of the few passages of Torah that mentions the spoken words of women, here Miriam speaks negatively of Moses, and his wife, who is Cushite (modern-day Ethiopian) and, along with their brother, Aaron, she questions Moses' personal relationship with God and his leadership. She is punished with leprosy, but Aaron is not punished physically. Moses cries out fervently: "Please, God, heal her!" (Numbers 12:13), and the entire community waits seven days for her recovery before they move on to the wilderness of Paran. Miriam, who refused to give up her gold to create the Golden Calf and who led the Israelites in dance when they crossed the Sea of Reeds, is given unprecedented kindness and honor - literally stopping hundreds of thousands of her people from moving forward when she is struck ill.

Rabbi Robbi