09 Jun 2017

Haftara for Beha’alotekha 5777: Beyond Your Dreams

Download a printer friendly version here.

Please click HERE to listen to this week’s audio recording read by Rabbi Joseph Dweck

Haftara for Beha’alotekha 5777: Beyond Your Dreams


There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet


Zekharia 2:14 – 4:7


The prophecies of Zekharia occur after the destruction of the first Bet HaMikdash. The prophecy of our haftara tells Zion to rejoice, for the exile will come to an end and the nation will return. His vision is of the exiled High Priest Yehoshua. He is wearing dirty garments which express the transgressions of Israel. To his right is the satan or the prosecutor who is poised to accuse him of sin. Yet, before he can do so he is silenced by God, and Yehoshua the Kohen Gadol is protected and given brand new garments and head dress for the priesthood. Yehoshua is promised that if he keeps God’s path and ensures justice in His house he will succeed. Zekharia is then shown another vision by the angel of God to which he feels he is being awoken from slumber. He sees a menora with seven branches and a basin above it. On either side of the basin are olive trees. He does not know what it means and asks the angel its meaning. The angel is surprised that Zekharia does not know, but then explains the vision to him. The flow of oil is the spirit of God. We are told: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit—said the Lord of Hosts’.


Predictions are dubious. With all of our knowledge, research and past experience, we rarely are able to predict how the future will unfold. Not knowing causes us a great deal of psychological and emotional unease. Our conscious minds tell us that we know what tomorrow will bring while our subconscious knows that even five minutes from now an unpredicted event can occur that could change our lives forever. 

To mitigate this dissonance we create our own predictions and expectations for the future, upon which we reassure ourselves with some aspect of certainty. This might help in the short term by allowing us some ease of mind. We believe in our predictions so we can sleep at night. But there are times when we might become so dedicated to our own ideas that we find it difficult to respond to realities that may negate them. 

We are all vulnerable to this happening to us. Torah teaches us that if our overall desire is to be dedicated to truth, God Himself — the source of all truth — reaches out His hand to help us and to see His world for what it is. 

Thus said the Lord of Hosts: If you walk in My paths and keep My charge, you in turn will rule My House and guard My courts, and I will permit you to move about among what stands before you. (3:7) 

The journey to seeing clearly may not be an easy one, it may even include pain and difficulty, but in the end all of it is worth the splendour that it reveals. 

In Beha’alotekha we find that Miriam, Moshe’s sister, has difficulty accepting the lofty levels of greatness that her younger brother had attained. Not because of jealousy, but because he had developed beyond a level she thought possible. She after all, had been the one who brought about a possibility for his birth![1] She protected him and made sure that he was safe and cared for. Her brother grew to become the saviour of Israel and the single greatest prophet we have ever known. Miriam loved Moshe but she worried that perhaps he had taken himself too seriously[2]

When he surpassed her vision for him, she found it difficult to move beyond her mental threshold. 

Now Miriam spoke, and Aharon, against Moshe…They said: Is it only, solely through Moshe that God speaks? Is it not also through us that He speaks? (Num., 12:1-2) 

God Himself intervenes and in one of the most dramatic episodes in the Torah He clarifies the reality for her. 

…And God heard…And God descended in a column of cloud and He called out: Aharon and Miriam! Hear my words: If there should be among you a prophet of God in a vision to him I make myself known, in a dream I speak with him. Not so my servant Moshe! In all my house he is trusted; mouth to mouth I speak with him, in plain sight not in riddles…How were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moshe?! The anger of God flared up against them, and He went off. (2,4-9) 

Miriam experienced a rebuke from God but from it she came to see the beauty that her brother had truly achieved. The care that she had given him blossomed within him before her eyes, beyond her wildest imagination. 

Our lives are a series of unpredictable and wondrous events. Through our days we are moulded and taught, tested and challenged, rewarded and reprimanded. The course of our lives is a personal Master Class from God Himself. We are educated by the Creator not with words, but with the unmatched impact of experiential learning. When we come to know this truth we sit humbly, as students, and discover what it means to be all that we can be in this world. We become partners in our own education and development with none other than God Himself. 

In that endeavour there is no room for manipulation, control or dominance. This precious education can only be achieved when we are open to life’s flow and the Spirit of God that powers and runs through all of it. 

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit—said the Lord of Hosts. (4:6) 

Its tides ebb and flow and we along with it. When the tides rise and comforts are compromised we move through knowing that we are accompanied by the Master of the Universe who is committed not only to our creation but to our ultimate success. We do not flinch. We carry on. 

As with the lights of the menora presented both in the parasha and the haftara we shine with a brighter flame as the energy within us is ignited through our growth. We come into ourselves and remember never to use our dreams to lock us away from the future that awaits us. 

Shabbat Shalom 


Rabbi Joseph Dweck

[1] Sotah, 12b

[2] See Tosafot, Shabbat 87a


Parsha Perspectives

III  Beha’alotecha 

42   Lighting Menorah lights  (8:1-4)

Aharon must light the Menorah every day; description of

Menorah as shown to Moshe

43a  Consecration of Levi’im  (8:5-22)

Cleanse Levi’im, present them before God. Chatat and

Olah offerings for their atonement.

43b  Age limits for Levi’im’s service   (8:23-26)

Serve for Ohel Moed from 25-50. After this they can

only assist.

44  Pesach in the midbar  (9:1-8)

Kept on eve of 14/1. Impure cannot offer so they ask

Moshe who asks God what to do…

45a  Pesach II  (9:9-14)

God says: If unclean on 14/1, keep on 14/2 in same

way. 14/2 only for impure or too far away to travel.

45b  Cloud travel mechanics  (9:15-23)

46  Construction and use of two silver trumpets by

Moshe  (10:1-10)

Kohanim blow to call People; or Nesi’im; to move camp;

alarm for war; for days of joy. [Chronology resumes]

47a  Departure from Sinai in formation  (10:11-28)

20/2, 2nd year. From Midbar Sinai to Paran. Degel

Yehuda, Mishkan dismantled, Degel Reuven,

Qehat carrying Mishkan, Degel Ephraim, Degel Dan.

47b  Hovav (Yitro) leaves. People travel ‘3 days’



cry focused on the Ark, aron  (10:35-36)

48  The complaints begin  (11:1-15)

Swift punishment for murmurers. Multitude & people

want meat, not manna. Moshe is sick of caring for  them.

49  God answers Moshe  (11:16-22)

70 to share responsibility. God plans a month long meat


50  Instant prophecy and the ‘Graves of Lust’  (11:23-35)

68 momentary prophets, but the other two, Eldad and

Medad continue. ‘Quails’ swarm. People fres. God

strikes back. Journey to Chatzerot.

51a  Siblings complain about ‘humble’ Moshe  (12:1-3)

51b  God explains and punishes   (12:4-13)

No prophet like Moshe. Miriam gets tzora’at. Moshe

prays for her recovery.

52  Miriam leaves camp for a week, people wait, then

all journey to Paran  (12:14-16)


Taken from, ‘Torah for Everyone’ by Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum, Dean of LSJS