Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Parshat Behalotecha

The Prophecy of Moshe

Towards the end of this week's parsha, Miriam and Aharon seem to be jealous of Moshe's special status. Miriam complains: "Has the Lord spoken only to Moses? Hasn't He spoken to us too?" (Bemidbar 12:2)

God explains to them that Moshe's prophecy was unique amongst prophets: "If there be prophets among you, the Lord will make Myself known to him in a vision; I will speak to him in a dream not so is My servant Moshe …With him I speak mouth to mouth; in a vision and not in riddles (ibid 6-8).

These pesukim give us an interesting insight into prophecy. God did not speak to the prophets directly. He appeared in visions, dreams and riddles.

We see this very clearly with Yaakov, when he dreamt about the ladder going up to the heavens with the angels descending an ascending. This was also the case with Yoseph and his dreams. It seems that even Avraham saw many of his prophecies in dreams. For example, immediately after being told to offer up his son, the passuk writes: "Avraham arose early in the morning" (Bereshit 22:3). This implies that Avraham received the message in a dream. This was also certainly the case with Bilam.

Isaiah speaks of his vision, Ezekiel describes a strange tempest, a creature with four heads and tries to decipher it, while Jeremiah speaks of how the word came to him.

All this implies that the prophets needed to interpret their dreams. Indeed, we know that Yoseph interpreted his own dreams incorrectly. Gideon was so uncertain as to his messages that he kept on giving God tests to see if they were for real.

Different prophets had different levels of clarity and different skills of interpretation.

This was not the case with Moshe. God spoke to him face to face. His message was clear and unambiguous. Indeed, he is the only prophet (with specific exceptions) that the Torah uses the word "daber" – "speak", when God spoke with them. The best other prophets got was the word "emor" – "say.

Therefore not only was Miriam criticism out of place, it was totally wrong.

Last years' Sedra Short on Parshat Beha'alotecha, entitled: "Moshe's Response to the Complaints" appears at

Another Sedra Short on Parshat Beha'alotecha, entitled: "Moshe's Leadership" appears at

A further Sedra Short on Parshat Beha'alotecha, entitled: "The Incident at Tav'era" appears at

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Blogger benqish said...

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1:40 PM  
Blogger benqish said...

Love how your DT starts: "The Prophecy of Moshe"! Pleased to have found your blog and have bookmarked it (see Yishar Koah.
Saul Davis

1:41 PM  

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