Parsha Beha'alotcha - Bemidbar/Numbers 8:1 - 12:16
This week in Parsha Beha’alotcha, we reach a turning point in the book of Bemidbar (Numbers). Just when everything seems to be going well, we see Yisrael start to stumble and then fail miserably. The consequences are severe. What could go wrong to cause such a dramatic shift in events?
First, let's recap:
In Bereshith, YAHUAH chose Abraham, Yitshaq, and Ya’aqob to build His nation.
In Shemoth, YAHUAH redeemed His nation from slavery and gave them His Torah, and they build Him a Dwelling Place in the wilderness.
In Wayyiqra, YAHUAH told them how to begin using the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and become His set-apart people.
Then, in the beginning of Bemidbar, they organized the camp and received their marching orders.
It would make perfect sense at this point to see them march into Eretz Yisrael (the land of Yisrael) and fulfill the promise of Abraham.
Buuut...that’s not what happens.
Instead, we see Yisrael sin, and sin, and sin again. In a few chapters, we’ll see that the consequence of their sins is that they don’t make it into the land. YAHUAH decrees that that generation will die in the wilderness.
It’s like watching a movie with a dramatic turn-of-events that you didn’t see coming. (Except for the fact that most of us already know the story.)
So, what happened?
After everything they experienced and learned, what caused such a turnaround? How is it that one minute they’re learning Torah and making set-apart offerings to YAHUAH, and the next minute they’re complaining, lusting, and greedily devouring the object of their desire? Didn't they change?
Bemidbar/Numbers 10:33 - “So they set out from the mountain of יהוה on a journey of three days. And the ark of the covenant of יהוה went before them for the three days’ journey, to seek out a resting place for them.”
They left Sinai.
Sinai was the place of learning. There, YAHUAH gave all His Torah to Moshe, and Moshe taught the people. At Sinai, they were immersed in Torah studying and learning.
Then, they moved away from there into the wilderness. They went out into the “real world” - the place where the challenges and struggles of daily life are really felt. All the Torah they learned at Sinai was now supposed to be applied in their daily lives out in the “real world.”
That’s when the trouble came. Yisrael learned Torah, but they had not yet internalized it enough. It still was not quite part of their being. They learned the letter, but they had not yet fully incorporated the spirit of Torah. When the spirit of Torah is complete, then the Torah truly becomes a part of you, affecting change in every part of your life.
Because the Torah was not fully integrated into the beings of Yisrael, they stumbled. They complained. They lusted. They became greedy, ungrateful, and unrepentant. All common pitfalls of being in the “real world.”
How many times do we complain?
How many times do we lust, crave, or want something really, really badly?
How many times have we been greedy or selfish or unkind?
How many times do we forget to give YAH thanks?
How many times do we fail to see our own faults and don’t repent sincerely?
How many times have we fallen into the same traps and pitfalls Yisrael fell into in our daily challenges of life in the "real world"?
Well, then it’s time to go back to Sinai.
We’re not perfect human beings. We’re going to make mistakes.
But if we find our self falling into these traps a little too often - if complaining and desiring physical things becomes our regular state - then, we’ve got to go back to Sinai. We’ve got to devote more time to learning and studying Torah.
YAH doesn’t expect us to stay there forever. There’s a time when we have to venture out and begin affecting real change in the world around us. He just wants us to be ready for that. He wants us to prepare ourselves first.
That preparation is Torah study. We have to spend some time at Sinai.
Read the Torah every day. Set aside a regular time that you will devote to learning. Daily, once a week, twice a week, or whatever - set a regular schedule to study and learn.
You may not be able to camp out at Sinai 24/7, but if you simply make Torah learning a priority in your life, it will have the same effect.
Learn Torah until you begin to see real changes in your everyday life. Have you quit complaining about your life? Have your desires changed from mostly physical to more spiritual matters? Have you become more thankful to YAHUAH? Are you more prone to acknowledge your shortcomings and repent of them?
When you see yourself growing in these ways, then you know the Torah is taking root. The Torah is being made complete in you. You are soon to be ready to set out and impact your world for set-apartness.