Skip To Content
The Schmooze

In Song: Beha’alotcha

Each week The Arty Semite connects the Torah reading — however tenuously — with a classic work of rock and roll.

In this week’s parsha, Beha’alotcha, the Levites are prepared for their duties in the Tabernacle, with the title referring to Aaron being given the privilege of lighting the Menorah. Passover is celebrated for the first (and only) time in the desert. Those who are unable to bring the Passover offering are given a second chance a month later, thus establishing the “Second Passover.”

Then Moses is commanded to make two silver trumpets for signalling the camp. The Israelites up camp and move on for three days. Moses’ father-law-Jethro takes his leave, whereupon things start to go downhill. First there are general grumblings, which are punished by fire. Then there are complaints that there is no meat, whereupon God provides a supper of quail every night for a month until the Israelites are literally sick of it, with many dying. Moses gathers 70 elders who are endowed with prophetic abilities to help him in deal with the rebellious hordes, while another two elders prophesy independently.

In the final passage in the parsha Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ siblings, talk about his relationship (or lack thereof) with his wife, Tzipporah. They refer to her as black-skinned, which many rabbis take to mean beautiful.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.