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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.

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