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July 16, 2024

BeHa’alotcha (When You Raise the Candles) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


Numbers 8:1-12:16

This Week’s Torah Portion | Jun 04 – Jun 10, 2023- 15 Sivan – 21 Sivan, 5783

In A Nutshell

The portion, BeHa’alotcha (When You Raise the Candles), takes place a year after the reception of the Torah. The people of Israel is getting ready to journey and holds a special ceremony for the inauguration of the altar. The portion details the laws concerning making the offering of Second Passover for those who were far and could take part in Passover.

The portion speaks of the tabernacle, on which there was constantly a cloud. It is an indication to the children of Israel when they must rise and journey, and when they must settle down. The portion also tells of the two silver trumpets that were used to assemble the people at times of war, when making an offerings, on Sabbaths, festivals, and special occasions.

Toward the end of the portion, several events take place that point to the heightening of the ego. The wicked in the nation complain about Moses and the Creator, and a consuming fire is sent to the wicked at the camp’s edge. The rabble, who is a group of proselytes that joined the children of Israel upon their exit from Egypt, complains about their condition, and the Creator showers quails on the camp. Anyone who jumps on the quails voluptuously is put to death. This is why the place is called “the graves of voluptuousness.”

The end of the portion talks about Miriam—Moses’ and Aaron’s sister—slandering Moses. She says to Aaron, “The Creator appeared to me, as well as to you, so why is Moses the leader? Why are we listening only to him?” She is punished for it with leprosy, and the nation waits for seven days until she returns.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

All the events are spiritual states within us. Each person needs to correct him or her self and achieve equivalence of form with the Creator, as it is written, “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God” (Hosea 14:2). The text speaks only about correction. It is not about having to cross the desert and reach the Jordan River, cross it, and reach the land of Israel. Rather, it is about ascending, as in BeHaalotcha (When You Raise).

Ascending refers to building the soul. Each of us builds his or her soul. We gradually build the soul—called “a portion of God from above” (Job 31:2). One begins the spiritual work, wanting to build oneself and achieve bestowal and love of others, connection with everyone, because by these acts one becomes similar to the Creator, as it is written, “From the love of man to the love of God,”[1] from loving of people to loving the Creator.

We achieve the love in stages, although we hate it because we are the complete opposite of it. These are the stages described in all the portions. To begin with, the Torah speaks only about a person receiving the spark called the “point in the heart.” With that spark we begin to correct ourselves. The Torah describes the way we go until the end of correction, through what is called “in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:12), through the end of the Torah (Pentateuch).

Therefore, when we begin to work and correct ourselves we immediately find all kinds of problems within us. It is written in the portion that a year after all the preparations, when the children of Israel began to move, problems began to arise in the camp. A person begins to find the problems only after all the preparations, when it seems that we are ready for the spiritual ascent. We begin to encounter many obstructions such as thoughts and desires that go against spiritual ascents.

The obstructions that appear are actually revelations of the desires and the thoughts, the mind and the heart we must correct. It is precisely by correcting them that we ascend. Hence, we need not see them as obstructions, but as a means for ascent, a springboard. We can see on ourselves and on groups in Israel and elsewhere in the world that problems begin the moment everything is organized and everyone is ready, eager, and must begin to act in the center of the group, begin to correct the connections. This is when trouble starts. But this is the right way, the only way to ascend.

The problems that appear reveal different desires and layers of desire in us. Our general desire is divided into many layers, so it is no surprise that “people” suddenly appear, meaning those desires within us. The whole of Israel is called Adam. He includes everything, even the nations of the world within us. However, Israel is the desires with which we can advance for the time being, while the nations of the world are kept “frozen” so as to not deal with them.

When we want to go only with desires with which we can go up to spirituality, we discover that even with them it is not that easy. There are desires that have not sanctified themselves, and this is the purpose of Second Passover. All those who did not do it during the exodus from Egypt can now be corrected, so now we sanctify them. “Sanctifying” means that we bring the desires to the quality of bestowal, which is called Kodesh (holiness), bestowal, or love of others.

We should learn how to sort the desires that are ready to be corrected in a person, and those that are not ready. The same goes for thoughts, working in the tent of meeting, and in the tabernacle. These are works of scrutiny and correction.

The work of the sacrifices or the Mitzvot (commandments) connected to the offerings are the most important because they entail instructions how to separate each desire from the rest of the desires, how to process it and understand it, what it is, and how possible or impossible it is to advance with it.

Our only way to advance is by turning our egoistic desires into desires of bestowal and love. There are always problems in this process, such as leprosy or plagues, as described about Miriam or the people who wanted meat. It happens because our desire divides into still, vegetative, animate, and speaking. “Speaking” refers to different kinds of people that the Torah mentions: priest, Levite, and Israel. Yet, we find that there are also strangers, proselytes, mixed multitudes, and kinds that seemingly do not belong to Israel yet joined it.

The sorting and the scrutiny are not done all at once upon the exodus from Egypt, but later, when it turns out that there is more to correct. We need to separate the sanctified part from the rest of our desires, which we temporarily “put on hold.” Some of these desires can be corrected, and through them it is possible to be sanctified and advance. It is possible to bestow with them, to ascend on the ladder. But with some desires it is impossible to do so.

The parts that can already be in bestowal and receive in order to bestow have already awakened. The light shines in them, as it is written, “When you raise the candles” (Numbers 8:2). There are clear signs in the scrutinies, which indicate when to take certain actions. If we are under a cloud, sitting, it is preparation. If the cloud wakes up, the heaviness and scrutinies awaken in us and we can start moving. The whole Torah is only about how to correct the will to receive, which parts, and how it becomes scrutinized.

Questions and Answers

What is Second Passover? Do desires we have not brought out suddenly make a higher discernment and discover that they, too, deserve to come out?

It is not a higher discernment, but a more accurate, finer one. We discover that desires with which we thought we could come out of Egypt and continue toward the reception of the Torah and the land of Israel do not really support bestowal. Eretz (land) means Ratzon (desire), and Ysrael (Israel) means Yashar El (straight to God). After taking a few steps forward we discover some “uncleanness” within us that we previously did not notice. Only now that we advanced we discern desires with which we cannot advance, so we sort and correct them.

We sort and correct our desires in stages. It is possible to ruin the desires, to kill them, separate them, or some how mend them, as with the work of the offerings. We divide our desires into still, vegetative, animate, and speaking, and we sort the desires at the level of speaking into priest, Levite, and Israel. We should also remember the mixed multitude, the proselytes, and the nations of the world, the various gentiles that awaken within us.

There are primary desires on the animate level because the soul consists of Shoresh (root), Neshama (soul), Guf (body), Levush (clothing), and Heichal (house/hall), or Moach (marrow), Atzamot (bones), Gidin (tendons), Bassar (flesh), and Or (skin), depending on how we divided. When referring to MoachAtzamotGidinBassar, and Or, we cannot correct the Or. The correction of the Or is making parchment out of it, on which to write the book of Torah. The Or is divided into two—the outside, and the Duchsustus (inner part). This is how it achieves correction.

Before that, we correct a Kli (vessel) of Bassar, on the animate degree. This is our main work at the altar. While there are salt, water, and other elements at the altar, the main one is the flesh. This is the Kli by which we correct our will to receive, which is the most important. The flesh is red; its structure is the great will to receive, hence the work of the offerings, as the Torah describes, is primarily in the Kli (vessel) of Bassar (flesh).

Before that, a person does not know or thinks there is a need to perform these corrections. A person understands it only as one advances at each stage, parks at the stops, prepares all the camps, each with its own banner, and each in its place in the division. If we take the entire people of Israel that is divided into camps, tribes, according to location and form, we either advance or stand still. Instead of finding the tent of meeting, all the desires stand around the tent. The Levites, the priests, and the whole camp is only describing the structure of the soul.

Bigger problems surface each time in the camp—whether it is external thoughts and desires that want to join the ranks, tribes along the way that attack them, or people in the desert who have not corrected themselves from their desires into a desire that is entirely Yashar El, which is the land that is full of milk and honey. That is, there are light of Hassadim and light of Hochma, while in the desert everything is dry; there is no water, no light of Hassadim; hence everything is only scrutinies.

There are many “physical” descriptions, such as the cloud going in front of the camp, and when the children of Israel rest, it rests, too.

This is the concealment: we only see our measure of concealment from the revelation of the Creator. If the cloud, meaning concealment, departs from us, we advance. If the concealment descends on us, we lower our heads, sit, and scrutinize. Indeed, most of the forty years in the desert were spent sitting and making scrutinies, only to move a little forward and stop again for scrutiny.

Why is it written that the cloud is going before the camp?

We follow the concealment because we want to accept it, since according to the concealment we discover the process by which we are going.

What is the concealment in relation to us?

Concealment is when a person receives it from the will to receive, when one wants to be in it, as it is written, “wisdom is with the humble” (Proverbs 11:2), or Safra de Tzniuta (Book of Humbleness, part of The Zohar), meaning disclosures. Safra means book (in Aramaic), and a book is disclosure, a Megillah (scroll), from the word Gilui (disclosure). When one hides oneself, agreeing to receive concealment from the Creator, this is when one advances.

True, it contradicts commonsense, since what does it mean to walk in bestowal? It is when a person does not want any disclosure, seemingly rejecting it. That person advances with Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) because we are in the forty years in the desert.

What does it give us?

This is how Malchut rises to Bina. We acquire the qualities Bina’s qualities of bestowal in our Kli of Malchut. With the qualities of bestowal we walk with our eyes shut because we are following the concealment, the cloud, until we reach the entrance to the land of Israel. Upon entering the land of Israel, the light of Hochma begins to appear through the light of Bina acquired during the forty years in the desert. This is when we begin to see.

The land of Israel is a land where the Creator is present, a desire filled by the Creator, when one has already discovered Him. But before that, when Malchut only rises to Bina, one acquires the concealment and consents to work only in bestowal without anything in return.

From where is the strength to walk in such concealment?

The strength is given from above. It is the strength of the light when receiving the quality of bestowal. The whole problem is that spirituality is not like corporeality, where everything is in our hands, in our vessels of reception and this is how we advance. It is not hard to advance this way because this way we remain in the ego. But in spirituality we do not advance egoistically. Rather, we have to receive from above additional strengths, the added desire, a new desire called “a new land,” “a new heaven.” Everything is new. “Through the desert” means that we cannot find any answers in our will to receive, any fulfillment.

So what motivates us? Why do we advance?

The motive comes from beginning to feel that we are following the upper force. It is good to feel it, but only if we are willing to follow the cloud, the concealment, with our eyes shut.

What does it mean to walk “with our eyes shut”?

Walking with our shut means that we do not receive any justification to advance in bestowal, neither in our minds nor in our hearts. Our hands, namely our corporeal, egoistic Kelim (vessels), is where we feel in the heart and understand in the mind. Here we do not feel or understand anything. All we want is the chance to go above these worldly Kelim and rise to another, higher dimension. We exist there in completely different Kelim from the ones we understand and feel.

How do we know that we are even making any progress there?

The cloud, concealment, is showing us the way, but only to the extent that we are willing to make constant sacrifices. That is a person sacrifices parts of the flesh, of the various desires. If a person sacrifices and does not want to engage in them, and is also willing to leave them with no rhyme or reason, as a result of these sacrifices that person will draw closer. Korban (sacrifice/offering) comes from the word Karov (near/close). In this way we draw closer to the quality of the Creator, to pure bestowal, Bina.

What is the meaning of what happens to Miriam the prophetess? She makes a just complaint regarding Moses’ leadership. If a person wants to lead, then why only Moses?

Moses’ quality of Bina is perfect, complete, GAR of Bina. It is not so with any other desire.

How does the Creator speak to Moses, and how did Moses speak to Him?

This is the revelation. In spirituality we have no sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Rather, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalms 34:9). A person does not taste in the mouth, but in the new Kelim that appear.

Does a person taste beyond the five physical senses?

There are HochmaBinaZeir Anpin, and MalchutYodHeyVavHeyHochma is vision, Bina is hearing. Some prophets said, “I saw,” and some said, “I heard.” The Creator spoke to Moses. Moses is the degree of BinaGAR of Bina, pure, faithful Bina. He was faithful, at the degree of faith. He heard; he was primarily at the degree of hearing, which is the degree of Bina. This is how the Creator appeared to him.

Did Miriam not know this? What is the punishment she got? We know that there are no punishments, so how come after the leprosy she understood?

All punishments are corrections. When Miriam is made ill and sits for seven days outside the camp, the whole camp waits for her return, and only then do they advance in the desert. “As they walked” speaks of corrections. The Nukva (female) is a deficiency that stands opposite Moses. She does not speak at the degree of GAR of Bina, as does Moses, but from the degree of VAK of Bina. That is, the whole degree is connected to that hearing. The Creator speaks to everyone; but Moses also knows because he is in the part of Bina where the light of Hochma (wisdom) dresses, in GAR of Bina.

Aaron and Miriam are not in GAR of Bina.

No; this is why Moses is considered the Creator’s house trustee, as it is written, “He is faithful in all My house” (Numbers 12:7).

Miriam is a woman, and almost everywhere in the Torah it is men who lead.

Not quite. Women exist in every stage and every action, but they are not mentioned. For example, Abraham begot Isaac, but he also had daughters.

Where it writes Et (the) in the Torah, does that refer to a female?

Yes, of course. The woman is the primary part of the Torah; she carries the deficiency that the man corrects. The reason why we talk more about men than about women is that the male part is the Masach (screen) that brings Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) that discloses the Zivug de Hakaa (coupling) on the deficiency of the woman. In this portion it is quite clear that without Prophetess Miriam it would not be possible to draw near. In other words, she is at the degree of Bina, the degree of revealing the Creator.

[1] Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Love of God and the Love of Man,” p 482.

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