Torah Portion

Beha’alotcha

בהעלתך

Numbers 8:1-12:16
Zechariah 2:14–4:7

The Two Arks: Military and Ritual

The Two Arks: Military and Ritual

Tradition and source criticism both see two ark traditions in the biblical text: The Ark of the Covenant and the Ark of the Testimony. The former accompanies Israelite troops into battle; it appears in Numbers 10 (וַיְהִי בִּנְסֹעַ הָאָרֹן) and in the stories of battles against the Philistines and Ammonites in Samuel. The latter remains in the Tabernacle, serving as a seat for YHWH’s glory and revelation.

Dr. Rabbi
Tzemah Yoreh
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Did Moses Become Celibate?

Did Moses Become Celibate?

The Israelite men are commanded to separate from their wives before the revelation at Sinai. The rabbis learn from this that Moses permanently separated from his wife (Num 12), to be available to speak with God at all times. Joseph ibn Kaspi (14th c.), however, claims that this distorts the plain meaning of the text and that celibacy is an affront to Jewish values.

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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The Paradox of Pesach Sheni

The Paradox of Pesach Sheni

As a historical commemoration, Passover is tied to a specific date. Nevertheless, the Torah gives a make-up date for bringing the offering a month later. Gerim, non-Israelites living among Israelites as equals, are also allowed to bring this offering, even though it wasn’t their ancestors who were freed. How do we make sense of these anomalies?  

Prof.
Steven Fraade
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What Kinds of Fish Were Eaten in Ancient Jerusalem?

What Kinds of Fish Were Eaten in Ancient Jerusalem?

Fishbone remains discovered in eight different excavations in Jerusalem, from the Iron age to the early Islamic period, give us a sense of what fish the locals ate, and from where they were imported.

Prof.
Omri Lernau, M.D.
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Why Did King Hezekiah Celebrate His Inaugural Passover a Month Late?

Why Did King Hezekiah Celebrate His Inaugural Passover a Month Late?

Upon purifying the Temple in his first year as king, Hezekiah delays the celebration of Passover until the 14th of Iyar, the date of the Torah’s Pesach Sheni, “Second Passover.” A close examination of the story (2 Chr 29–30) demonstrates that this wasn’t a simple application of the Pesach Sheni law, but that Hezekiah was innovating in order to create unity between the northern Israelites and southern Judahites.

Dr.
David Glatt-Gilad
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The Double Quail Narratives and Bekhor Shor’s Innovative Reading

The Double Quail Narratives and Bekhor Shor’s Innovative Reading

Exodus 16 and Numbers 11 each describe God miraculously bringing quail to the hungry Israelites in the wilderness. What is the relationship between these two accounts?

Prof.
Jonathan Jacobs
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Will the Real Miriam Please Stand Up?

Will the Real Miriam Please Stand Up?

In biblical tradition, Miriam is known as Moses’ sister. Critical analysis reveals more about this ancient and once independent leader. 

Prof.
Tamar Kamionkowski
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Were the Israelites Craving for Meat or Starving for Food?

Were the Israelites Craving for Meat or Starving for Food?

“There is nothing at all, nothing but this manna” (Num 11:6): How the manna tradition overtook the suffering in the wilderness tradition.

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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What Is Prophecy?

What Is Prophecy?

An Exploration of the Views of Sa’adia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Ibn Ezra, and Maimonides

Prof.
Haim (Howard) Kreisel
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Re-Encountering Miriam

Re-Encountering Miriam

The biblical portrait of Miriam can leave the feminist reader with a lingering bitterness but a literary rereading may help highlight her prophetic leadership role.

Prof.
Wendy Zierler
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Moses and the Kushite Woman: Classic Interpretations and Philo's Allegory

Moses and the Kushite Woman: Classic Interpretations and Philo's Allegory

Ancient interpreters debated the identify of Moses’ Kushite wife and the nature of Miriam and Aaron’s complaint. Philo allegorizes her as an eye’s perfect focus, reflecting Moses’ direct perception of God. Reading this together with Philo’s allegorical understanding of Zipporah as a “bird” with direct access to heaven highlights the greatness of Moses’ wife as the fourth matriarch of Israel.[1]

Dr.
Elad Filler
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Manna and Mystical Eating

Manna and Mystical Eating

Ancient interpreters contemplated the substance of manna, a food that traverses the chasm between divine and mundane realms, falling from heaven to be consumed on earth. In kabbalistic thought, the Zohar presents manna as granting the desert generation an embodied experience of knowledge of God; such an opportunity is available to mystics in everyday eating and through birkat ha-mazon (Grace after Meals).

Prof.
Joel Hecker
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Beha’alotcha

בהעלתך

Numbers 8:1-12:16

וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה עָנָיו מְאֹד מִכֹּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה׃

במדבר יב:ג

Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.

Num 12:3

Numbers

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