Cloudy (With No Chance of Meatballs): B’ha’alotkha 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How often does time seem to move much faster than you had hoped? When does it move much slower than you had hoped?

As the Israelites resume their march in the wilderness, the movement of God’s protective cloud marks the time of their journey:

The Pitch: “In the second year, on the twentieth day of the second month, the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of the Pact and the Israelites set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai. The cloud came to rest in the wilderness of Paran. When the march was to begin, at the LORD’s command through Moses …” – Numbers 10:11-13

Swing #1: “Ten days is a unit of time found [multiple times in the Bible]. The tenth day of the month appears as the date of a feast or an event; the 20th day is mentioned less frequently.” – Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel

Swing #2: “The priestly writers greatly expanded the area of the Wilderness of Paran, it seems. In Numbers 13:3 and 26, verses that were both rewritten by the priestly school, an overlap occurs, with the result that Kadesh is said to be located in the Wilderness of Paran, and the Wilderness of Paran is said to be part of Sinai, so that Kadesh is not located in Canaan. According to the priestly tradition, the Israelites remained in the Wilderness of Paran, as it turned out, for about thirty-eight of the forty years of their migrations.” – Baruch A. Levine, Numbers 1-20

Swing #3: “They spent 12 months less 10 days at Horeb, for, see now, on the first of the month of Sivan, they encamped there, and they did not travel until the 20th of Iyar, of the following year.” – Rashi

Late-Inning Questions: Do you think it’s significant that the Israelites spent 10 days short of one year at Mount Sinai? If so, what is the significance? How is the movement of God’s protective cloud an effective symbol of turning points in the Israelites’ journey? Are there objects in your life that help mark the passage of time? Are these objects significant to you because of it?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Please join us at services Saturday, June 2nd, as Barak Malichi will join us for a musical presentation. Barak is an Israeli professional guitarist and bassist. He has worked in music and informal education since serving in the Israeli army. Barak will join us in partnership with OTS Amiel BaKehila, a new initiative of Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of the passage of time, fans continue to marvel at the career of Texas Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon, who continues to pitch effectively even after his recent 45th birthday. To put it in perspective, Colon’s rookie year was in 1997 … one year before Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was born.

Shabbat Shalom!