This week the construction of the Menorah is given in Torah. Earlier the Menorah with its seven arms is described into details as to how to be constructed. This week’s parashah describes how it needs to be used. As symbol the Menorah is well-known. The government of Israel uses it for example. The prophet Zechariah gives his insight on the Menorah in this week’s Haftarah as well.
The spiritual war around this holy tool is enormous. The Hellenistic Syrian military destroyed our Temple in the Maccabean War and defiled the holy oil used for the Menorah. Only one jar was left and found. And when used it produced fuel for eight days surprisingly. This is why we use our eight armed menorah at Hanukah, to celebrate these eight miracle days. The Menorah has been stolen by the Babylonians and we got it back after seventy years, as prophesied by our prophet Jeremiah. The Romans stole the Menorah as well and the Roman organization must have use for it, for they never gave it back yet. Roman general Titus headed this operation and a special Titus Arch has been built for him. See the picture with detail. When the arch was finished Titus never marched under it, because he was already dead, a welcome detail in this piece of history.
The Parashat Beha’alotcha also treats the feast of Pesach. With a second opportunity (called: Pesach Sheni, Second Pesach, see 9:6-14) for those who were not able because of being tame (unclean) the importance of this feast is made clear. Where Shavuot, the feast of Weeks shows the importance of our response to G-d’s grace by applying Torah in our lives, Pesach shows our importance of trusting the Lord who delivered and delivers us from Egypt, evil and death and the importance of having faith in Him. This faith is the basis of our relationship with Him and that is why Pesach, even with a second opportunity to celebrate it, is so important.
The openness of Israel to non-Jews has been shown throughout history. It is Moshe in this Torah portion who invites Jethro to become part of the nation of Israel (see 10:29-32). Ruth is another great example, as we just read during the celebration of Shavuot on May 28 in the evening. There are many examples of righteous Gentiles who joined Israel and the women among them who got Jewish children.
And the Menorah is with us all the time; during wars, with Pesach and without, and with Jews and righteous Gentiles. Even now, in the period in which we do not have our Temple, the Menorah is with us. Not physically, but in the deepest meaning of this holy tool: G-d’s power which gives Israel victory. That victory is being worked out right now. And the summit of that victory will become visible at the appearance of our Messiah Yeshua as the king.
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua