Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
1. This week's Torah portion is Beha'alotecha, the third parasha in the book of Numbers.
2. The parasha opens with a mission that is not only about lighting, but about enlightening too. It describes the kindling of the menorah lamps in the Mishkan, a practice to be continued in the Holy Temple. God tells Moshe to tell Aharon: "When you light the lamps..." Our commentators explain that this is the mission of us all, to light a fire in ourselves and others that leads to sustained enthusiasm for meaningful activity throughout our lives.
3. After we read this parasha on Saturday morning in the synagogue, we read the haftarah from the book of Zechariah. There, too, the Temple menorah is described, including its adornment of olive braches, depicted today on either side of the menorah that is the emblem of the State of Israel.
4. Pesach Sheini or Second Pesach is also described in this parasha. Whoever cannot celebrate Pesach in the month of Nissan gets an additional opportunity to do so in the following month of Iyar. The Previous Rebbe, father-in-law of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, was accustomed to say: "Pesach Sheini is proof that nothing is ever lost. It's never too late since our conduct can always be rectified."
5. Later, the parasha describes the complaints of the nation. The people are full of despair, bitterness, cynicism and even express a desire to return to Egypt. Apparently it is not sufficient to take the nation out of Egypt since there remains the challenge of taking Egypt out of the nation. The Exodus from Egypt is not just a physical act but rather an ongoing educational process of leaving slavery for freedom, a challenge that continues until today.