Beha’alotekha 5770

Posted on March 23, 2011

by Charlene Thrope

In this week’s parsha, Beha’alotkha, the Israelites begin complaining. Instead of appreciating manna, the delicious and miraculous food they are blessed with every day, the Israelites express a desire to return to Egypt. Moses becomes upset because of his people’s unhappiness, but he feels he cannot do anything to help them. Feeling incapable of leading the people by himself, Moses cries out to God, who responds to both the Israelites’ and Moses’s distress.

God deals harshly with the Israelites. Quail falls over the camp, seemingly an answer to the Israelites’ request for more meat. But before they can even chew their quail, the Israelites who went out to gather the quail are struck by a plague of God. Even after this punishment, the Israelites didn’t learn their lesson — they continue to be unsatisfied with the blessings God gave them.

Given the Israelites’ constant complaining, Moses’s dissatisfaction is more reasonable. To help Moses lead the people, God tells Moses to bring 70 elders who will all receive some of Moses’s ruach, or spirit. While some leaders would be unhappy with this division of power, Moses approves of God’s plan. In fact, when Eldad and Medad, who were not among the 70 elders selected by Moses, receive some of Moses’s ruach, Moshe expresses his desire for all of God’s people to be prophets.

All leaders should strive to achieve the level of humility that Moses demonstrates in this week’s parsha. He knows that his job is sometimes too much to handle and to go to God to ask for help. By sharing Moses’s ruach, he relieves himself of some responsibility and allows others to have their own chance to be leaders. With Moses as our dugma, we can each learn to be the best possible leader.