July 5, 2020 ~ Sh PINEHAS. M SABA.

Shabbat Behaalotekha - שבת בהעלותך


The Menora

בהעלותך את הנרות אל מול פני המנורה - The light of the Menora has elevated (בהעלותך) many people throughout the generations, although no official reason for it's existence is offered anywhere in the Torah. It is only until we read about an angel who approached Zekaria (Zekaria 4) that we are offered a clear explanation. In a dream, Zekaria had a vision of a gold Menora along with two olive trees. "Do you know what this means?" asked the angel. When Zekaria admits that he did not, the angel tells him that the light of the Menora symbolizes that it is "not by might, and not by power, but by My spirit alone" (לא בחיל ולא בכח כי אם ברוחי) that will bring you salvation. The light of the Menora is a powerful reminder that we don't have to be mighty warriors in order to overcome mountainous obstacles but rather, our success comes directly from the light of God that continues to inspire us. Beth Torah Bulletin, June 10, 2017.

Inverted Nuns

׆ ויהי בנסע הארון - The Inverted Nun (נו״ן הפוכה) is a rare symbol found nine times in the TaNaKh. In Numbers 10:35-36, there are two such symbols, and in Psalm 107, the traditional Mizmor for Pesah, there are seven. Thefunction of this symbol (׆) throughout ancient texts is disputed, but many ideas have been offered. One suggestion is that the Inverted Nun is to demonstrate that these verses are out of place. Another suggestion, found in the Talmud (TB Shabbat 116a) is thatthe Inverted Nuns show that these two verses, consisting of 85 words, form a separate book; making the Torah consist of 7 books (following R' Yonatan's opinion on Proverbs 9:1). Another sage of the Talmud, R' Shimon Ben Gamliel, disputes this and commentsthat the Inverted Nuns provide a break between two different transgressions of the Israelites. Regardless of the reason for the Inverted Nuns, they cause these verses discussing the carrying of the Aron to have added significance. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, June 22, 2019.


זכרנו את הדגה - Whenever I hear Syrian Jews recall the "good old days" in Bradley Beach, they often describe it as if everything from this era was perfect. This type of yearning for the past in a sentimental way is referred to as nostalgia. In talking about Bradley, community members often relive the fun and excitement of their youth and the communal unity that they experienced. This type of nostalgia can be viewed as helpful especially if we want to recreate the feelings of love and unity. Another type of nostalgia, however, takes place in Numbers 11:5. Here, lustful Israelites say "We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt; all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that we wanted." These Israelites were punished, because they had nostalgia for the wrong things. Instead of thanking God for the simple manna that they had as a free nation, they fantasized about their time as lowly slaves but surrounded by good food. Beth Torah Bulletin, June 2, 2018.


אִ֣ישׁ אִ֣ישׁ כִּי־יִהְיֶֽה־טָמֵ֣א ׀ לָנֶ֡פֶשׁ אוֹ֩ בְדֶ֨רֶךְ רְחֹקָ֜הׄ - In Numbers 9:10, there is a dot above the letter Heh in the word "Rehoqa" (רְחֹקָ֜הׄ) in all Torah scrolls. The context of the verse discusses Pesah Sheni; offering the Pesah sacrifice on 15 Iyar for those who were on a "far journey" (בְדֶ֨רֶךְ רְחֹקָ֜הׄ) for the original Pesah. Rashi says that the dot above "Rehoqa" hints that "far" does not only refer to distance. For a person can be "far" by simply being outside, not inside, of the courtyard of the sacrifice ceremony. According to R. Hezekia b. Manoah, also known as Hizquni (circa 1240), the dot above the Heh is meant to delete that letter from the word; making it "Rahoq." Here, the word "Rahoq," which is masculine, connects to the word "Ish" (man) in the beginning of the verse. In this case, the dot is to teach that not only does the law apply to someone on a "far journey," but also to one who was spiritually "far;" i.e. estranged from God. Even for such people, they are given a second opportunity to renew their relationship with God and rejoin the nation. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, June 13, 2020.

Maqam of the Week: SIGAH

For Shabbat Beha'alotekha (Numbers 8:1- 12:16), the third perasha in the book, prayers are conducted in Maqam SIGAH (which means ‘third’ in Persian). This maqam, associated with priestly ceremonies and with the building of the tabernacle, is applied, because the perasha opens with the lighting of the Menora. SIGAH relates to the Torah, because it is the maqam applied for the melody of chanting the Torah. There is a connection between the Torah and light; as it states in Proverbs, "Ki Ner Missva VeTorah Or." HAZZANUT: Nishmat: Yebiun Sefatai Shira (discusses the Menora). Sephardic Pizmonim Project, www.pizmonim.com.