Below is a collection of Parashat Behaalotekha resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at email@example.com if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
‘DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: In this week’s parasha, the people tire of the manna they have been receiving and demand meat. Moses needs help! He feels he can’t lead the people alone, so God tells him to gather 70 elders and he will share his wisdom and Divine inspiration with them and they will help him. Will his leadership change because he is sharing it? Can you be a good leader and also share responsibilities with others? The medieval commentator Rashi describes this process – Moses sharing his leadership was like a menorah that can light other candles and share his light, while at the same time, his own light stays strong. Can you think of any leaders like this?
Look inside the text (Bemidbar 11:16-17, 25):
וַיֹּאמֶר ה’ אֶל משֶׁה אֶסְפָה לִּי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יָדַעְתָּ כִּי הֵם זִקְנֵי הָעָם וְשֹׁטְרָיו וְלָקַחְתָּ אֹתָם אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְהִתְיַצְּבוּ שָׁם עִמָּךְ: וְיָרַדְתִּי וְדִבַּרְתִּי עִמְּךָ שָׁם וְאָצַלְתִּי מִן הָרוּחַ אֲשֶׁר עָלֶיךָ וְשַׂמְתִּי עֲלֵיהֶם וְנָשְׂאוּ אִתְּךָ בְּמַשָּׂא הָעָם וְלֹא תִשָּׂא אַתָּה לְבַדֶּךָ… וַיֵּרֶד ה’ בֶּעָנָן וַיְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו וַיָּאצֶל מִן הָרוּחַ אֲשֶׁר עָלָיו וַיִּתֵּן עַל שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ הַזְּקֵנִים וַיְהִי כְּנוֹחַ עֲלֵיהֶם הָרוּחַ וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ וְלֹא יָסָפוּ – Then God said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy of Israel’s elders of whom you have experience as elders and officers of the people, and bring them to the Tent of Meeting and let them take their place there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will draw upon the spirit that is on you and put it upon them; they shall share the burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone.
Question #2: In Parashat Behaalotekha, the Jewish people celebrated their first (and only) Passover in the desert. Imagine the excitement now that they had a mishkan (Tabernacle) and could bring a Passover sacrifice. BUT – some people were not able to participate because they were tamei (spiritually impure) and therefore couldn’t bring the sacrifice. They approached Moses because they didn’t want to be left out of the mitzvah and he didn’t know the answer and consulted with God. God responded that they can have a second chance exactly one month later – on the 14th of the month of Iyaar, which became known as Pesach Sheni (Second Passover). Nowadays many people eat a piece of matzah on this day to remember the occasion. Why do you think God gave the people a “second chance”? When do you think this is especially important? Do you remember a time when you were given a “second chance?”
Look inside the text (Bemidbar 9: 7 – 11):
וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָהֵמָּה אֵלָיו אֲנַחְנוּ טְמֵאִים לְנֶפֶשׁ אָדָם לָמָּה נִגָּרַע לְבִלְתִּי הַקְרִיב אֶת קָרְבַּן ה’ בְּמֹעֲדוֹ בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם משֶׁה עִמְדוּ וְאֶשְׁמְעָה מַה יְּצַוֶּה ה’ לָכֶם:
וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֶל משֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:
‘דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר אִישׁ אִישׁ כִּי יִהְיֶה טָמֵא לָנֶפֶשׁ אוֹ בְדֶרֶךְ רְחֹקָה לָכֶם אוֹ לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם וְעָשָׂה פֶסַח לַה:
בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם יַעֲשׂוּ אֹתוֹ עַל מַצּוֹת וּמְרֹרִים יֹאכְלֻהוּ
But there were some men who were spiritually impure and could not offer the Passover sacrifice on that day. Appearing that same day before Moses and Aaron, those men said to them, “Unclean though we are by reason of a corpse, why must we be stopped from presenting God’s offering at its set time with the rest of the Israelites?”Moses said to them, “Stand by, and let me hear what instructions God gives about you.” And God spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the Israelite people, saying: When any of you or of your posterity who is defiled by a corpse or is on a long journey would offer a Passover sacrifice to God, they shall offer it in the second month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Question #3: Moses invites his father-in-law, Yitro, to join the Israelites on their journey to the promised land. Yitro declines, feeling like he is an outsider. What kinds of things do we say or do, perhaps even without being aware, which people who are slightly different from us or with different backgrounds than us feel uncomfortable or unwanted? How consciously do we need to be of other people’s sensitivities to avoid offending them?
Question #4: A small group of people was excluded from the Pesach offering in the second year because of their impurity. When they complained to Moses, who then turned to God, they were given a second opportunity to do it a month later. When is it OK to make exceptions to the rule? What happens when every request for an exception is granted? What about our people who are disadvantaged in some way – should we always be looking for ways to accommodate them? What about firefighters or soldiers without legs, or blind surgeons? What are the limits of those exceptions?