B'ha'alotkha: A Summary of the Parashah

The Israelites receive instructions regarding Passover; they journey forth from Sinai and complain to God on several occasions, provoking God's anger; Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses.

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The Israelites cried again complaining that there was nothing to eat besides manna and they wanted meat and fish and fruits and vegetables like they ate in Egypt. Moses heard their weeping, and the wrath of God flared greatly. In the eyes of Moses it was bad. Moses said to God, “Why have You placed the burden of this entire people upon me. I alone cannot carry this entire nation, for it is too heavy a burden.”

God said to Moses, “gather seventy men from among the elders of Israel and have them stand with you at the Tent of Appointed Meeting. They will then bear the burden of the people with you. As for the people complaining that life was better for them in Egypt, tell them that God will provide meat. Tell them it will be so much meat that they must eat it for a whole month until it comes out of their nostrils and makes them nauseated. Tell them it is because you have rejected Hashem who is in your midst and you have wept before Hashem saying, ‘Why did we leave Egypt?’”

Moses gathered the elders and then God sent a wind and drove quails from the sea to the camp. Some people arose and gathered quail and the meat was still between their teeth and not yet chewed when the anger of God broke out. God called this place Graves of Lust, for there they had buried the people who had been craving. The rest of the people journeyed to Hatzeroth.

There Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses regarding the “dark skinned woman” whom he had married, for he had indeed married a “dark-skinned” woman. They said, “Has God indeed spoken only with Moses? Has God not also spoken to us?” And God heard their words against Moses.

Now Moses was extremely humble, more than all the persons who live on the face of the earth. God suddenly said to Moses, to Aaron and to Miriam, “Go all three of you, to the Tent of Appointed Meeting.” God descended in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of Tent of Appointed Meeting. God called Aaron and Miriam. “Hear now My words: My servant Moses is trusted in all my house. Mouth to mouth do I speak with him, in a vision and not in riddles, and he beholds the image of God. Why, then, were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”

The wrath of God was kindled against them and when the cloud departed from the Tent, Miriam was leprous as snow. Aaron turned to Miriam and saw she was a leper.

Aaron said to Moses, “O My Lord, do not count it as a grave sin against us what we have done thoughtlessly and how we have sinned. Let Miriam not remain like a corpse.” And Moses cried to God, “O God, please heal her.”

And God said to Moses, “If her father had spit in her presence, would she not have been ashamed for seven days? Have her confined outside the camp for seven days and afterwards she shall be taken in again.”

Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not journey on until Miriam was brought back into camp. Afterwards the people journeyed from Hatzeroth and they camped in the wilderness of Paran.

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at www.TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.