Sedras at the Crossroads

We read through the Torah each year. not because of the past, but because of what we must do in the present and in the future.

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Phil Chernofsky,

Torah scroll (illustration)
Torah scroll (illustration)
iStock

B'haalot'cha is by no means the only sedra to which the title of this Lead Tidbit could apply.

We have the recently read B'chukotai and the upcoming Sh'lach and Korach and Chukat and Balak, to name just a few other sedras. It's a little like "The Lady and the Tiger" by O' Henry... but it's different, significantly different. Let's start with the crossroads. Before that, another idea.

It's an expanded version of EIN SEDER MUKDAM UM'UCHAR BATORAH, the Torah is not necessarily in chronolog- ical order.

This week's sedra is a perfect example of that with the intentional decision by G-d, so to speak, to begin the book of Bamidbar a month after the events of Perek TET in B'haalot'cha. Decision not to begin the book with the account of the first annual Pesach observance, because it would be embarrassing to Bnei Yisrael (see Sedra Summary).

But the chronology gets really out of sync if we look at Parshat HaShavua and the Jewish Calendar (and the sprecial Torah readings for Chagim). A week or so ago, we celebrated the Giving of the Torah and Revelation at Sinai. Skip over Naso (as we unfortunately did in the Bamidbar-Shavuot issue of Torah Tidbits) and we find ourselves almost a year later, receiving our first marching orders since we camped - as one person with one heart - at Sinai.

A little more than a month earlier, we commemorated the Exodus with the first annual Korban Pesach. Just a few days ago, some of our fellows who had complained about being Tamei and missing out on KP, had their second chance. Our traveling orders were simple. Destination: Eretz Yisrael and G-d had been telling us since before we left Egypt. And then - here in B'haalot'cha, before we get to the Meraglim in next week's sedra, before Korach's rebellion and before a slew of other things - came the complainers and the complaints. And here are our crossroads. We can't change what the Dor HaMidbar did. We can just read about it, learn it... and make our choices.

Are we going to listen to G-d, to do His Will? Are we going to complain about missing an opportunity to do a mitzva? Or are we going to perpetuate the many sins and shortcomings we read about? Know why it isn't like O' Henry's suspense story? Because we don't have to guess and wonder about the consequences of our choice. The Torah and the prophets have made that clear. We read through the Torah each year. We study it constantly. Not because of the past, but because of what we must do in the presnt and in the future.



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