Beha’alotecha (pronounced beh-hah-ah-LOH-t’khah) is a mouthful. It means “When you go up” and as with all names of Torah portions, it comes from the first distinctive word of the portion. which is the third portion in the book of Numbers. We’re deep into the Wilderness now, reading difficult stories and learning challenging mitzvot.
According to Maimonides, there are five mitzvot in this parashah. Four have to do with Passover, but the fifth has to do with sounding the alarm in time of war:
When you are at war in your land against an aggressor who attacks you, you shall sound short blasts on the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God and be delivered from your enemies. – Numbers 10:9
This is followed immediately by the commandment to sound the trumpets at other times. I’ve never understood why the Rambam doesn’t count this as a mitzvah as well:
And on your joyous occasions—your fixed festivals and new moon days—you shall sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I, the LORD, am your God. – Numbers 10:10
Perhaps one of my readers can enlighten us about this: why doesn’t this count as a mitzvah? Or maybe the point is doing it, not counting it!
Note also that the word for “trumpets” here is khatzotz’rot, not shofarot. These are silver trumpets, not rams’ horns. However, in Joshua 6, the priests are told to blow rams’ horns (shofarot.) Apparently knocking walls down requires shofarot!
Here are some of the divrei Torah available online for study this week:
The Silencing of Miriam and the Cushite Woman by Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
The Real Beneficiaries of Our Rituals by Rabbi Marc Katz
May It Be His Will by Rabbi Rafi Mollot
Power and Prophecy by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman
Light by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Out, Out, Damn Tamei! by Rabbi Ruth Adar
If You Missed It the First Time by Rabbi Vered Harris