BeHa’alotecha- Not By Might nor by Power

Behaalotchaart by Laya Crust

BeHa’alotecha-   Numbers: ch 8- ch 12

Haftarah:   Zechariah:  ch 2:14 – 4:7

Zechariah was a prophet in Jerusalem around the year 520 BCE.  The Jews had been exiled to Babylon but under King Cyrus were allowed to return to Jerusalem. Zechariah and Haggai encouraged the people to stop being so despondent and start rebuilding their destroyed temple.

Zechariah by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel

This haftarah is replete with angels- angels talking to Joshua and angels talking to and waking Zechariah.  Zechariah tells the angel that he has had a vision of a golden menorah flanked by two olive trees. A bowl  above the menorah has seven pipes funneling olive oil to the menorah.  When the angel realizes that Zechariah doesn’t understand the symbolism of the vision he explains that the trees represent the leadership of Joshua and Zerubbabel in building the Second Temple. The angel says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” meaning that the reestablishment of the Jewish people will come through faith, not war.

Cervera, Spain, c. 1300

My illustration at the top was based on this beautiful manuscript painting from Spain, with the menorah panted in gold leaf. The menorah was a central fixture in the Temple and was lit by the Kohanim. The wicks of the menorah were arranged to shed light in one flame. That light can be seen as  the light we bring to the world.

The menorah is the symbol of Judaism. In 1948, the year Israel was declared a state, a competition was held for a Coat of Arms. Gabriel and Maxim Shamir‘s  design was chosen. In 1949 the design below was unveiled as the Israeli State Coat of Arms.On that thought , may you have an illuminated week and weekend, full of flaming conversation and bright ideas.



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4 responses to “BeHa’alotecha- Not By Might nor by Power

  1. Rikki Blitt

    Your artwork is exquisite, as always. I am grateful for your dvar since I am not doing any reading myself. Hugs!

    • Thanks, Rikki! I apologize that I didn’t answer you about the “shema” last time… The words are very similar, but the “shema” is from parshat V’Etchanan.
      Re the artwork- thank-you for your sweet compliment. The page from the Cervera manuscript is stunning.

  2. Marjorie Gann

    Beautiful, Laya.

    Be-Ha’alotecha was Eleanore’s bat mitzvah parashah, which Andy taught her. (We did our own thing in Moncton, since the shul didn’t allow her to have her bat mitzvah there.) We selected the quote from Zechariah which you cite as the quote for her invitations.


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