Hebrew is a funny language!
In Hebrew, even long words always have a tiny, three-letter word inside them. This week’s parsha has a long name: clap along to hear the syllables: be-ha-ah-los-cha. (did you count five?) But inside that long word, there is a TINY root (shoresh): a-lah/עלה. And that shoresh means “going up.”
In this parsha, Aharon is the one going up – to light the menorah in the Mishkan!
Every evening, Aharon would climb up to light the menorah; it stayed lit all the next day!
Do you know what happens when somebody finishes school?
Before they could work in the Mishkan, they had to prepare and dress and bring korbanos. Instead of getting a diploma and a handshake, the parsha says Aharon actually lifted up each and every one – and remember, there were 22,000 Levi’im to lift! That’s a lot of work for one old man. (Remember, we don’t understand many of the wonderful things the Torah tells us about. Perhaps we will someday.)
Now it was time for bnei Yisrael to celebrate their first Pesach!
Hashem reminded Moshe of the date and of how everything should be done properly. Even in the midbar, even with the people who were there at the actual yetzias Mitzrayim, Hashem wanted them to sit down and remember it. So we can see how important is it for us, so many years away from it, to carefully sit down and talk about the whole thing at our seder each year! He said both born Jews and geirim (people who choose to become Jewish), should have the same rules about Pesach.
But not everybody could make Pesach at the right time.
If you were tamei (impure) from a dead body, you couldn’t bring a korban Pesach. Some men told Moshe they wanted to have Pesach, but they’d been near a dead person. (Some people say these were the cousins who removed Nadav and Avihu from the Kodesh HaKodashim.) This was “good kvetching!” They knew Hashem’s laws were fair, but wanted an extra law that would let them join in.
Now here’s something amazing – Moshe didn’t know the answer!
Even the greatest teacher should say, “I don’t know” sometimes. Moshe said it – then he asked Hashem, who said YES! They really couldn’t bring a korban Pesach, but in a month, they’d be tahor , and could bring a Pesach Sheini (second Pesach). Hashem knew being tamei wasn’t their fault.
Have you ever gone on a trip? If you did, I bet you had a map!
Maybe not you, but the person driving the car, flying the plane, steering the boat – somebody had a map. That’s how we know where to go! But things are different with Hashem in charge. Hashem led bnei Yisrael with a stack of clouds in the daytime and fire at night, raising the clouds or fire when it was time to travel, lowering them to stop. He was still protecting bnei Yisrael and feeding them the man (what would your man taste like?), but it was frustrating, not knowing if they’d be staying for days or years! Maybe that’s why they complained: “We’re sick of man! We want meat!”
Hashem sent birds the very next day – but everyone who ate them got sick and died.
This was “bad kvetching”! Hashem always knows what’s best for bnei Yisrael.
Miriam and Aharon also complained. Sefer Bamidbar has a lot of complaining, I’m afraid.
They said something about Moshe – we don’t know exactly what. But what happened in those days if someone said Lashon Hora? Although Moshe wasעָנָיו (anav), the humblest man ever, and didn’t defend himself, Hashem struck Miriam with tzara’as! She had to leave the camp. Moshe davened – “please, Hashem, heal her now!” Hashem listened, and let bnei Yisrael wait there until she healed.
Complaining about Hashem’s gifts??? Yes, even about eretz Yisrael, as we’ll see next week!