This portion begins with Moses’s brother, the High Priest Aaron preparing the seven lamps of the menorah, placing it in its place in the Tabernacle.  We then read how the Levites – the tribe assigned to priestly duties purified themselves.

The portion continues with the rules of Passover observance being described.  This is to take place on the 14th day of the first of month of the second year of the Exodus.

The parasha describes how God’s presence appears over the Tabernacle as cloud during the day and as fire by night.  God tells Moses to have two silver trumpets made to be sounded when to bring the people together and to signal the time to break game and begin moving again.  They are also be blown during war and on joyous occasions, holidays and at the appearance of the new moon.

The rest of the portion describes trouble that Moses has with the Israelites.  The first time they begin to complain God gets so angry that a fire breaks out at the edge of camp Moses prays to God and the fire is extinguished.  The next time they begin to complain it’s about food. They are bored manna. Moses is annoyed at them, and God tells him to appoint 70 advisors to help him lead the people. The people are then told that they will get so much meat from God for the whole month, that they will get sick from it.

When a few of the advisors begin to act like religious leaders to the people. Moses’s second in command, Joshua wants Moses to stop them, but Moses doesn’t saying that he wished that all the people acted like prophets had God’s presence within them.

While the meat from the quail that God sent was fresh, God strikes the people with a plague. This was to punish them for their complaining and not being grateful. The area where this happened was named “Graves of Craving”.

Moses’s sister Miriam, and brother Aaron criticize Moses because of his wife. They also challenge his authority. God became angry at the two of them and punished Miriam by stricking her with leprosy.   Moses pleads to God to heal her, and after seven days she is. The Israelites resume their wandering.

Torah Portion in English

1) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2) Speak to Aaron and say to him, “When you mount the lamps, let the seven lamps give light at the front of the lampstand.” 3) Aaron did so; he mounted the lamps at the front of the lampstand, as the Lord had commanded Moses.— 4) Now this is how the lampstand was made: it was hammered work of gold, hammered from base to petal. According to the pattern that the Lord had shown Moses, so was the lampstand made. 5) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 6) Take the Levites from among the Israelites and cleanse them. 7) This is what you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle on them water of purification, and let them go over their whole body with a razor, and wash their clothes; thus they shall be cleansed. 8) Let them take a bull of the herd, and with it a meal offering of choice flour with oil mixed in, and you take a second bull of the herd for a sin offering. 9) You shall bring the Levites forward before the Tent of Meeting. Assemble the whole Israelite community, 10) and bring the Levites forward before the Lord. Let the Israelites lay their hands upon the Levites, 11) and let Aaron designate the Levites before the Lord as an elevation offering from the Israelites, that they may perform the service of the Lord. 12) The Levites shall now lay their hands upon the heads of the bulls; one shall be offered to the Lord as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, to make expiation for the Levites. 13) You shall place the Levites in attendance upon Aaron and his sons, and designate them as an elevation offering to the Lord. 14) Thus you shall set the Levites apart from the Israelites, and the Levites shall be Mine.

Getting to Know my Parasha

What Does my Parasha Say?

  1. How many branches did the lamp in the Tabernacle have?
  2. On what day does Passover fall?
  3. How does the presence of God appear to the Israelites?
  4. How old were the Levites when then they could retire?
  5. What was the purpose of the trumpets?  
  6. Why did the people complain to Moses (there are a number of answers to this question).
  7. What advice does God give Moses after the first time the people complain?
  8. How did Moses respond when he heard about Eldad and Medad?
  9. How were the people punished for complaining?
  10. Why did Miriam and Aaron criticize Moses?  What happened to them?