A Taste of Torah is a devotional study through the five books of Moses by well-respected Hebraic teacher Keren Hannah Pryor, APCOD 2015 Cebu, Faculty Speaker.
The central focus of the Torah readings for the month of June is taken from the book of Numbers. The ‘Priestley Blessing’ reminds us that we are a royal priesthood and Numbers 6:22 is written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
A Taste of Torah by Keren Hannah Pryor
06/07 Beha’alotkha – When you set up Numbers 8:1-12:16; Zechariah 2:10-4:7
06/14 Shlach Lekha – Send Thou Numbers 13:1-15:41; Joshua 2:1-24
06/21 Korach – Korach Numbers 16:1-18:32; 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22
06/28 Chukkat – Statute Numbers 19:1-22:1 ; Judges 11:1-33
Beha’alotkha – When you set up [the lamps]
The central focus of Beha’alotkha is the Menorah in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. Its
shape is that of a trunk and branches and the details of its design resemble an almond tree. It is symbolic of the Word of God and thus is compared to a Tree of Light. The lamps of the Menorah are fueled by pure olive oil and, when lit, represent the radiance of the Presence of God, the illumination of His Word of Truth. The eye-shaped almonds represent His constant care and watch over His people.
In anticipation of the full and final Redemption of Israel and the world, the prophet Zechariah, in seven Hebrew words corresponding to the seven lamps of the Menorah, emphasizes that in the powerful light of the truth of God and in His Spirit of Holiness, nothing is impossible.
“Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit,” says the Lord (4:16).
Shlach Lekha – Send Thou
The next portion, Shlach lekha, carries an echo of the command, “Lech lekha – Go thou!” given by God to Abraham when He sent him forth from his native land to “a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1); one which He swore to give to him and his promised descendants forever (Genesis 17:8).
A difference to consider between the two scenarios is that Abraham, not knowing where this land was, set out in pure trust and faith in the One Who sent him; whereas Moses and the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, knew its exact location. Abraham journeyed and arrived and dwelt in the Land of promise but the narrative of the book B’midbar (Numbers) presents us with the sad reality that the adult generation of those who left Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, did not. They succumbed to resentment, rebellion and negativity; fear replaced faith and doubt replaced trust in God’s Word and leading. Instead of looking forward in faith and in anticipation of the new thing God was doing, they longed for the old ways of Egypt – the place of their slavery.
Korach – Korach
The portion Korach focuses on rebellion against God’s Divine appointing and anointing. The group led by Korach was of the tribe of Levi. Jealousy and resentment over his cousins’ appointments to positions of status may have been at the root of Korach’s dispute. He believed that, as a leader of the Levites, he had as much right as Aaron did to fill the position of High Priest.
An interesting section of this week’s portion is chapter 17, which describes the miracle of Aaron’s dry staff being filled with buds and blossoms and ripe almonds overnight. As we read in the chapter, this was the Lord’s supernatural affirmation of His appointment of Aaron as High Priest, and his staff was to be kept in the Sanctuary as a permanent reminder to the children of Israel. It was also a miracle that the buds, blossoms and almonds stayed continually fresh and did not wither, which returns our thoughts to the almond tree of the Menorah representing the Word of God. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever” (40:8).
Chukkat – Statute
The last portion Chukkat records the deaths of Aaron and Miriam. Along with Moses, they are honored as two of the three “good leaders” of Israel. However, like their brother, they are destined not to enter the Promised Land. Chapter 20: 12-13, tells us:
“…ye believed not in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel”; and
verses 23-24: “…ye rebelled against My Word at the waters of Meribah.”
At Meribah, Moses struck the rock in his own strength, rather than obeying God’s command to ‘speak’ in order to bring forth water. Due to Moses’ lack of patience with the people, a unique opportunity was lost to honor the Name and character of God through which they could have been inspired to walk in greater love and obedience to Him and His Word, for their greater blessing.