Moses sends the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel to check out the land of Israel, to investigate its people and evaluate their strength or weakness, to taste the fruits and crops and determine the fertility of the land.
With the opening verse of Chapter 11, everything begins to crash. The nation complains repeatedly and is punished. Miriam speaks ill of her brother and his wife and is punished. And then, of course, comes the sin of the spies…
To this day, all first-born sons to a Jewish mother are ‘redeemed’ in a special ceremony which represents the divine statement that the Nation of Israel is holy.
The child of a mixed marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew will always be confused, will lack a clear identity and will have trouble relating to God.
The thrust of the chapter is the expectation of holiness in our dealings with our fellow man. For it is through our relationships with our fellow human beings, through acts of compassion and charity, that we can indeed become holy
G-d does not treat gossip lightly. As men and women, created in His image, we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves and to treat everyone with respect. This includes not maligning them, even in a light, gossipy way.
One of the most tragic events in the Bible takes place in this week’s reading. Leviticus 10 begins with the story of the death of Nadav and Avihu, who brought a “strange fire” before G-d. It is not clear exactly what Nadav and Avihu did that angered G-d.
With the anointing of Aaron, Moses hands over something he will never have again. He lovingly gives up a part of his leadership, so that the people can be better served.
The first verse in chapter 40 provides us with the date that the Tabernacle was completed — the first day of the first month, or the first of Nissan. Nissan is the month which begins the Biblical count of months and it falls at this time of year. It is also known as the month of the spring (Deuteronomy 16:1). It is not the month of Rosh HaShana
This week’s portion begins with the end of Exodus chapter 27 and includes the instructions for Aaron and their priests in their worship roles — their clothes, the sanctification process they will go through, and some instruction regarding the altar, the incense altar and the “tent of meeting.” It is the instruction with regard to this “tent” that I would like to focus on this week.