THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE
THE WEEKLY TORAH READING -- A FIRST GLANCE
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This study is brought to you by Marc & Leslie Feldman of LA, in holy celebration of their wedding anniversary
A. THE BACKGROUND OF THE READING
Last week, God's appearance crowned and climaxed an elaborate 12 day pageant of presentation of tabernacle dedication gifts by the tribal princes. Yet He spoke ONLY to Moshe, whose role is so much greater (7:89). All of this had occurred a month earlier (Nissan 1), but is related now to remind the Jews of their mission. Numbers began with a military census and the marching order to conquer Israel; but holy indispensible Tzahal is but a means to an ultimate end, symbolized by the tabernacle-- that the Jews be a model HOLY (not just free) people in their land. While I was in Hebron this past Shabbat, scores of Arabs attacked the soldiers on guard, for about 4 hours; the Arabs are trying to drive out the small Jewish community of Hebron, echoing the brutal savage slaughter of its Jewish community in 1929 by their grandparents; the dedicated brave settlers should be supported by all those allegedly liberal-- Judenrein is a Nazi, not a democratic, concept.
Sensitive Jews are reluctant to sing Hatikva, which depicts the ancient Jewish hope and dream as only political independence -- God, His Torah and Israel's mission are ignored (videos of Israel's wars, except for Tefillin Power, are similar); so Prof. S. Talmon tried, with no evidence, to explain away David's choice of Jerusalem as a political decision, ignoring all the Biblical testimony that it was destined to be the site of the Temple. The author of Hatikva, N. H. Imber, was a drunk who flirted with Christianity; the tune is Czech. Yet, since Hatikva has already captured the Jewish spirit, we have created a new improved truly Jewish version, fit even for sensitive Jews: after proclaiming our hope of thousands of years, "to be a free people in our land", we end with our true and higher hope-- "to be a holy people (am kadosh) in our land" (cf. Ex. 19:6; see and disseminate our bumper sticker).
Aharon's role, lamplighter in the tabernacle, is juxtaposed to the princes' offerings upon its dedication, rather than to other Levite functions, set forth in Num. 3-4; Rashi explains Midrash Agada's statement that Aharon was allegedly dismayed when all the other princes presented their offerings-- he and his tribe had no share in the grand dedication offerings. God then tells him that he has a much greater role than making donations-- LIGHTING & TRIMMING the menorah. The man of spirit and intellect is unlikely to be the man of commerce and v.v. (but cf. David, Solomon, R. Judah, Abarbanel, Arman Krauz). For true individual and national fulfillment, each Jew must know and do HIS unique task, his "place" in the camp-- so each nation has its role in the Divine Drama (Hirsch, Rav Kook -- e.g. Jewish Messianism, German efficiency, British politeness), tho dabbling in all other realms for holistic wholeness; cf. m-f leitmotifs -- intimate nurturing vs. aloof objective conquest, in Gen. 3:16-20; are women thus excluded from the combative Israeli religious establishment? The army?-- see Lt. Yael Dayan's engrossing account of the Sinai campaign, "A Soldier's Diary-- Sinai 1967", dedicated to her esteemed commander, Arik Sharon.
Yael, the problematic product of a very disfunctional family, whose center was her famous, but cold and womanizing, father, didn't engage in combat; she only relayed communications, reported on the war, and prepared meals for the traveling officers. Her attempts to render David, the great warrior who reminds her of her own father, a homosexual, probably reflect her own heartfelt ardent wish that moshe had not been so attracted to women, or her semi-conscious impression of latent homosexuality in Moshe, which he fought to disprove with his conquests, both in the field and in the bedroom. When, in her dairy, she changed her army clothes for Shabbat, her boyfriend Dov, her future husband, cited her uncle Ezer Weitzman, quoting an English "lady": "When an Arab is dirty, he is picturesque, but when a Jew is dirty, he is a dirty Jew". Dov added: "So you had better try and stay clean now". In her diary, little of her personal life and philosophy appears; we wouldn't even know if she was then leftish or had a love life. She writes (P. 114): "`Jerusalem is beyond discussion', we said. We said it, we felt it, we meant it. It would remain united, and no decision or agreement would ever again deprive the capital of its eastern limb and the holy places... (P. 117). The old frontiers were gone, and history presented us with the chance of re-shaping the country, guided by justice and our rightful interest-- we were not going to miss that chance... I hoped we would not give up anything for less than a permanent agreement, which would enable us to live in peace.
"I also feared that we would always, to a certain extent, be foreigners in the area, and that friction would take the place of armed conflict-- friction between cultures, background, religions, attitudes; friction which, however, on the other hand, could well be constructive in the long run". She describes her return home, after the war (P. 120): "It must be wonderful for a soldier to meet his girl-- wearing a dress, clean, a touch of perfume... it was all something to come back to. And there I was. Dirty and dusty, a silly plait, uncombed for days, burnt rough skin, heavy boots, red eyes. We landed and drove to Zahala in silence. Were we all thinking of tomorrow morning? By coincidence (a secular outlook), Arik met his wife Lilly on the road. He joined her and we drove behind their car. She rested her head on his shoulder. He was home. `All will be well', Dov promised me. `Home' now was something new; safer, larger, stronger and happier (until Oslo?)".
But Dayan's (autobiographical?) novel, "New Face In the Mirror", portrays the life experience, trials and tribulations of an assimilated, secular, and very savvy, but emotionally very shallow, Israeli, Ariel Ron-- every inch the daughter of one of Israel's bravest warriors. She's a leader in her army unit; nevertheless, in the midst of an affair with a 52 year old very fine, but non-Jewish, Foreign Ministry official, she finds that she's still very much a woman-- and very much afraid... Dayan wrote much of the book during her 2 years of military service, from 17 to 19. It presents, howbeit unwittingly, a very good case for keeping Jewish girls far away from the profane amoral secular military establishment, if we want them to be sensitive, modest and devoted Jewish wives and mothers-- unless they're in separate "hesder-like" army units.
RAMBAN rejects Rashi's explanation of Aharon's midrashic disappointment, supra-- did little Moshe ben Nachman learn 11th century Rashi in his 13th century cheder? What did such 13th century Spanish mystical-philosophical scholars think of 11th century "straight" Ashkenazi talmudists? Ramban contends, opposing Rashi's view, that the menora is NOT Aharon's highest service-- it is Yom Kippur's sacrifices and incense. Indeed, Aharon wasn't left out of the dedication-- Aharon & Sons also brought sacrifices in the new tabernacle, thruout their 8 days of inauguration! But, Ramban explains, the midrash means that Aharon saw no UNIQUE role for his tribe, insofar as all contributed sacrifices to the tabernacle-- God responds that his unique role will be demonstrated and performed by his Hasmonean descendants; they rededicate the Temple, trimming and rekindling the CHANUKAH menora. It's much harder to REBUILD, all one's hopes shattered, than to venture forth with youthful optimism (cf. 1945, 1948, rebuilding Chevron and the Jewish 1/4). So the other priestly ETERNAL role, blessing Israel, is placed just BEFORE the princes'offerings. To bless them, to raise their spirits, even in exile, requires extraordinary faith and spirit-- as Aharon's.
The menora represents another eternal Levite role-- to keep the lamp of Torah study burning, even in exile, until it again is an Israeli Law of Life. Rambam forbids taking money for Torah study; yet he might allow salaries for Levite kollel students and Roshei Yeshiva. The cohen's role may be greater than that of other Jews, in that he dedicates himself, not just his money, to God's service (cf. olim and UJA donors).
Last week, equal respect and role satisfaction were prescribed for all 3 Levite sub-tribes, despite their different functions; each should "count", when being counted (cf. our problems with new immigrants from primitive societies, and with Palestinean Arabs). Moshe "raised the heads of", gave equal dignity to, Gershonites and Merarites, who did lower level tasks; he must now console the highest element-- the cohanim! They too feel deprived, lacking impressive, quickly realized, PHYSICAL dedications to God, per Rashi (cf. a sensitive little genius, in a society which extols triviae, e.g. fashion, soccer, sports cars and rock music). God interrupted His tale of redeemed Israel's journey (Ex. 34) to expound His renewed post-Calf convenant with Israel. He now continues the tale (Numbers 10:11); the Jews are still far from their ideal State. Contemporary social standards determine every society's laws. Torah Law, however, assumes Messianic ideals of human Divine potential, far beyond Israel's state at Sinai. Thus it's clearly not of human, but of Divine, origin-- Hirsch.
B. MENORA UNIVERSITY (per Abarbanel)
LIGHTING the menorah symbolizes teaching, spreading wisdom's light, IN ALL ITS BRANCHES. Dressing its lamps, removing the wicks' ashes and unburnt oil (Ex. 30:7), may represent structuring of learning-- cleaning out obsolete, nonproductive, and mistaken notions (e.g. wearing red strings, praying for male children?), between spurts of enlightenment-- it may be Yitzchak's disciplined ordering (called "gvura", in some kabbalistic writings) of Avraham's creative expansion (which they call "chesed"; cf. haircuts-- see HAIR below). We already know that Aharon lights the menora (Ex. 27:20f., 30:7, Lev. 24:1f)-- in Exodus, his lighting precedes his mystical inauguration and offering of incense (30:1f.)-- one must master basic knowledge, Revelatory and scientific, and be perfectly healthy, in mind and body, before entering higher esoteric prophecy (Ned. 38a, M. T. Yesodei Hatorah 7:1, 8 Chapters:7). In Vayikra 24, lighting the menora precedes setting up the golden table with its 12 loaves-- knowledge is also a sine qua non for material achievement, with which it must interact. Per Abarbanel, Moshe is not told to COMMAND Aharon to light the menora until Numbers 8:1.
Numbers opens with a census, giving order and structure to Israel's camp; it reflects God's universal order and structure, emerging from chaos; so we now examine the menora's model internal structure (but see Ex. 25:37). Some saw in it the sun (the trunk) and its 6 planets (the branches; see Abarbanel), some the Shabbat (the trunk) surrounded by the 3 days preceding it and the 3 following it (the branches). Abarbanel's own "Torah view" is that the 6 branches are the basic branches of human knowledge; all stem from the trunk, the central light, Revealed Torah, the Divine blueprint of creation. Ultimately, absolutely nothing is secular.
THEREFORE: 1) Man can expect scientific order in a universe created by one Planner, who reveals Himself. Given God's Revelation via Torah, we also expect it in His audio-visual division, the physical universe. Early scientists, e.g. Newton and Galileo, sought natural LAWS, for they believed in a communicative Creator, a Lawgiver, not a world of accident (cf. so-called "scientific" academic bible critics, who seek to destroy the unity of the Torah and its connection to Creation and the Creator). 2) We then expect ALL knowledge and experience to interrelate at some level (cf. holistic medicine; in The Allergy Handbook, Mumby connects our environment, food, and inner states); so all realms share basic patterns and principles-- if cats and horses exist, there SHOULD BE a catfish and a seahorse; similarities between human embryos and fish do not indicate Darwinian evolution, the vast majority of whose links are missing-- both are created by the same Artisan (cf. a Chevy and a Caddy, both GM, Body by Fisher). All explorations of reality must include the feelings and presence of the observer, also part of the structure (see The Burnt Offering-- Faier).
Zen master Thigh Nhat Hanh, a favorite of Jerusalem teachers of Jewish spirituality, focuses on Mindful Living, sensitivity to all that goes in within me and within my environment and relationships, in Touching Peace. He stresses the "emptiness", the lack of self-sufficiency, in everything, the "inter-being" of all-- when I look at piece of paper, e.g. a page of the JP, I should become aware of the cloud "in it", which gave the rain to water the tree, from which the paper was made, the earth and air which nourished it; I should be sensitive to the most precious food-- the air-- in a seemingly empty bowl. But Judaism stresses the uniqueness of each individual and experience-- unlike Buddhists, we mourn the loss of those close to us and stress the importance of our every act; right after the Menora, with it symmbolic holism, come the laws of the Levites, to be separated from other Jews, just as Jews are to be separated from their non-Jewish congregants. Buddhism is infused with basic concepts alien to Judaism (e.g. seeking Nirvena, rather than social action, the monastic ideal); thus it is not a good source for Jews who seek spirituality (Rav M. Gafni, vs. Tzvi Rosenman, who extracts what is unique and good from Zen Buddhist wisdom, where it does not conflict with Torah-- "Who is wise?-- he who learns from all men" (Avot). His wife, Ilana, notes that such spiritual teaching led her back to Judaism; Thigh urges his listeners to connect to spirituality thru their own traditions, constantly refining them.
3) If God grants knowledge and power, they must be used with sanctity, sensitivity, and responsibility. Everything has its role and moment, be it weed or lily, Rambam or Bunche Schveige. Islam called us the "people of The Book", i.e. The Torah, recognized by all truly traditional Jews as one unified book (Rav J. Faur); Judaism, however, disparaged study, even Torah, divorced from awe of God-- rain causes both nourishing and poisonous plants to grow; so Torah study helps good folks achieve perfection, but increases the impurity in wicked hearts (Brilliant Vilna Gaon, who wasn't very nice to the Chassidim, on Prov. 24:3). Knowledge gives power; it will be abused, without submission to God's Will (Gen. 20:11). Far better for mankind had Germany, master of intellect and culture, remained a nation of ignorant pagans. The unity and divinity of the Torah are denied by preachers of the Documentary Hypothesis, self-proclaimed masters of "scientific" Jewish study-- Bible critics, Reconstructionist, Reform and most Conservative and University teachers of Torah; they automatically thereby also destroy the Torah as a significant moral and Jewish force; why care so much about a bunch of ancient documents put together by our distant ancestors? So I heard a woman allege that the Torah is the remnants of old goddess legends (!!!), at the Conservative Movement's L.A. University of Judaism, without a word of disagreement or protest from the faculty-- thank God, I came and challenged her far-fetched premises from the audience.
The 6 branches cast their light toward the center-- science increases and enhances one's understanding of Torah. Rambam writes: "It is a mitzva to love and fear this glorious and awesome God. What is the path to loving Him and having awe of Him? When one contemplates His works and wonderful creations, and sees IN THEM His endless and incomparable wisdom, he immediately loves, praises, and glorifies Him, and is filled with deep yearning passion to know the Great Name (via Torah). As David said: `My soul is thirsty for the Lord (of nature), for the God of Life'... `When I view Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, what is man that You take note of him?'. Therefore I'll explain great principles of the works of the Master of the Worlds, to create an opening for a person of understanding to come to the love of God". The Rambam goes on to teach medieval science and metaphysics (M.T., Y. H. 2:1-2; in his earlier Sefer Hamitzvot, he includes study of the Torah as a means to love God, following Sifre; perhaps he drops it here as women, whom he discourages from studying Torah, are also commanded to love God).
The Vilna Gaon wrote to his disciple, Eng. B. Shklov: "Commensurate to one's lack of secular disciplines, will be a 100-fold lack in his Torah wisdom" (Introd. to his Hebrew Euclid-- cf. Ponavich and Lakewood). MATH, ASTRONOMY, ASTROLOGY & MAGIC, PHYSIOLOGY, BOTANY, etc. are essential to understand Torah-- see the Gaon's books on geometry, astronomy, and algebra, and his map of Palestine, per Joshua; his son, Avraham, wrote a geography in Hebrew. Rav D. Gans (1541-1613) was both a close disciple of Ramah and an outstanding astronomer, close to Kepler and Brahe; he wrote the first scientific Jewish history book-- Tzemach David; he describes his Torah giant grandfather, who was convinced that Meshiach was coming in 5260. It's truly tragic that the Gaon's alleged spiritual descendants, the Lithuanian yeshivot, ignore this major aspect of his Torah outlook; their students (and faculty) are virtually ignorant of science and higher mathematics, leave alone history and secular civilization.
Unfortunately, Hasidism, which so beautifully intertwined Divinty with human kindness and sensitivity, bypassed study and application of God's glorious laws of nature for questionable mystical speculation, tho they appreciated Nature emotionally and spiritually. Today's hassidim often substitute stories of tzadikim walking in the forests for walking in the forests themselves! Sublime Shlomo Carlebach's adherants are probably closer to the Besht and his immediate followers, in spirit, than is the ultra-conformist, often radically repressed, hassidic establishment. But their establishment preserves the most basic affirmation of nature and human nature-- to be married by 20, and to bring lots of little Divine Images into this world.
Marshal attacked both the Shulchan Aruch, as arbitrary, and philosophy, as dangerous to correct faith; he also chided Ramah for his poor grammar and defense of philosophy. But Ramah (Responsa 7) said that he'd rather abandon study of kabbala, than that of philosophy-- one may be misled more by the former than the latter!-- cf. some of the off-the-wall crazies at the Wall, the Sabbatarian and Frankist movements, and some Habadniks' continuing Meshiach Mishagas. Gans, who also defended philosophy, claims science was developed by Jews, then forgotten in their painful exile. So Avraham ben Maimon believed that some Sufi Moslem religious practices originated in the Temple, and should be restored to Judaism. The study of science enhances religion and the Jewish image; so John Hulley's new book, "Comets, Jews and Christians" ($20 postpaid from TOP) explores the high correlation of involvement with the Tanach (The O.T., Only Testament) and scientific genius. Hulley also suggests how an inspired Israel may be our best defense to Mankind's greatest threat-- the possibility of an asteroid colliding with Earth. Hulley's theories interface with Rav E. Mishan's pithy translation of 8:1, per its cantillation: " ... when you raise up these lights (i.e. Torah and the 6 sciences), all must face the FACE (central essence-- Torah) of the menora (Torah itself must be studied only as God's Word), (then) the 7 lights (Torah too!) WILL (truly) ENLIGHTEN.
Per R. Bachye, the 7 lamps symbolize 7 gradations of wisdom (Kad Hakemach-- Chavel ed., 423): constellations, measurements, soul, nature, expression, math, and values (per Ibn Ezra, Yesod Morah 1, they're astronomy, geometry, psychology, natural science, language, math, and liberal arts-- Chavel; see Bachye on Ex. 25:31). Knowledge of God is added to the 7 wisdoms in the Messianic era, represented by the 8th candle of Chanuka, recalling the rededication of the Sanctuary (see Ar. 13b). Per this view, the Torah itself, at least in its deepest essence or permutation, may not be represented in the menora itself; unlike the menora, in the tabernacle proper, symbolic of our normal earthly existence, Torah is found only in the holy of holies, beyond the confines of our mundane existence.
So the great sephardic yeshiva of the Jewish Quarter in the 1600's, Bet Yaakov, taught secular subjects, all integrated with the Torah; old and young studied together at this prototype of Yeshiva University. New York's highly erudite Bostoner Rebbe and Rebbitzin might be the right folks to establish Israel's first Haredi University today, a great public need. May God bless the rebbe for his unequivocal battle against murder and suicide in the haredi community-- smoking.
Some kabbalistic works equate the 7 branches with the 7 lower sfirot, the candles, wicks, and lights with higher realms. Hirsch's menora has Knowledge, Counsel, and Wisdom (daas, atza, chuchma) branching right, Awe of God, Strength, and Understanding (yerat hashem, gvura, and bina) branching left, the Spirit of God (ruach hashem) in the middle (Ex. 25). Per Chayim Tal, the 6 branches are the 6 civilized continents, which derive their sustenance and spirit from Israel, "navel of the world", land of the center trunk, Torah.
RAV A. ORNSTEIN: The menora symbolizes the unity of Israel (cf. the 4 Sukkot species). The oil and lights represent the sages and Torah of Israel; Tekoans, who had much olive oil, were considered wise (Men. 85b; see ms. Rashi); Yoav sought a wise woman in Tekoa (IIS.14:2). The cups, used for wine, symbolize materialist activists-- as wine, they and their products can be good (cf. Golan, Barkan) or bad (cf. sugar-laden Badatz wines, e.g. Efrat). The flowers represent those who contribute ephemeral fragrance, beauty-- it must be linked to the menora, the teaching and values of Judaism. Decadent art, tho of the highest artistic merit, has no place in an Israel Festival, Israel TV, or Mei Eden ads. Finally we have the caftorim, the buttons. These Jews make no obvious contribution, but somehow, without them, everything else will fall apart (cf. Sukkot's willow branches; the Satmar Rov noted that only the multitude of posters hold Meah Shearim's walls together). Rav J. Soloveichik had an ancestor who was so absorbed in Torah that he paid little attention to his family; when his daughter married, however, he had to go to the wedding. As he dressed, a button popped off his outfit-- he then moaned: "Oy, the difficulties of raising children!". So Avraham ben Maimon urges us to stay single as long as possible, and to have as few children as possible, so that we won't be distracted from our spiritual activities (in The High Ways to Perfection, quoted by E.J.).
The Torah now portrays the Jewish spiritual leadership, in declining order, after honoring the princes. Only Moshe has constant intimate contact with God. Aharon enters the holy of holies only once a year (per Ohr HaChayim; but Meshach Chochma claims that Aharon and Eleazer, unlike their descendants, could enter the holy of holies anytime, during the desert trek); his main gift is LIFTING UP the lights every day-- master of all Revelation and worldly knowledge, He integrates both to guide Israel: FOR THE LIPS OF THE PRIEST PRESERVE (or GUARD) DEEP KNOWLEDGE, AND THEY SHALL SEEK TORAH FROM HIS MOUTH, WHEN HE IS A TRUE AGENT (or ANGEL) OF THE GOD OF HOSTS (Malachi 2:7)-- one should only accept a teacher who respects other great teachers, tho of opposite views; so the angels of death and healing respect each other-- all serve in God's Hosts (The Belzer Rebbe, vs. Satmar)! The "God of Hosts" may also imply that the Torah teacher must also encompass knowledge of all of God's Creation; so every human fetus (not just Jews, implying a common inner spiritual language of all mankind), via Divine light, sees the entire world, "from one end to the other" (in both time and space?), and learns the entire Torah-- many yeshivot "forget" to teach and emulate the former realm, ignoring science, geography and history! These days in the womb are the best days of one's life!-- perhaps overly prolonged academic or yeshiva study, avoiding the world and its problems, is thus literally a return to the womb (cf. Freud).
Tho an angel makes everyone "forget" his/her pre-natal Torah at birth, an unconscious preset remains; otherwise, why teach the fetus in the first place? Before birth, the fetus is "sworn into life", promising to be righteous (a tzadik, i.e. at least 51% good, per Rambam, M.T. Tshuva), and not to be evil (at least 51% bad); tho the whole world views one as righteous, his self-view is to be the opposite, aware of his faults and lacks, and striving to improve them. He's to be deeply aware that the Holy One, blessed be He, and those who serve Him, are pure, as is the soul with which God endowed him-- "if you preserve it in purity, things will be good; if not, behold, I'll take it from you" (R. Simlei, Nida 30b).
DERSHOWITZ'S OWN CHUTZPAH! In his absorbing, witty and profound book "Chutzpah", Alan Dershowitz tries to justify his lapsed observance of halacha by his great contributions to making a better world, to trying to be a true "secular Tzadik", as Rav A. Kook described Yosef and Brandeis. But he's unaware that, without true God awareness, acquired thru deep learning and observance of Torah, all morality must collapse, despite the thin veneer or tip of an iceberg of secular civilization-- Avraham tells Avimelech, king of civilized Philistia, that he's fully convinced that Avi's Philistine followers would have killed him to steal his wife, had they known he's her husband, for: "There's no God-awareness in this place" (Gen. 20:11). It's not enough for a fetus to be shown all reality and told to be a tzadik-- he/she must also learn and observe the entire Torah to become and remain a true tzadik, tho those already steeped in it, and their descendants, as Dershowitz, may retain its morality and ideals and hopes for a better world for some time after abandoning its formal observance (Isadore Epstein, Faith and Judaism; in Judaism, Epstein claims that Terach was fleeing war and upheaval in his flight from Ur toward primitive Canaan, unaware that he was setting the spiritual stage for Avram's mission).
The menora's carved from a SOLID block of PURE gold-- there's no hollowness of speculation, nor emptiness of irrelevant meandering, in Aharon's vast array of knowledge; the priestly encyclopedia contains no dross-- eternal truth will not corrode. From its base, the realms of obvious necessity, to its flowers, delicate mystical allusions, it's the unity shown Moshe on Mt. Revelation. Some midrashim claim that Moshe couldn't understand how to carve the complex menora from one solid block of gold. Chassidic sources explain this metaphorically-- he couldn't understand how to unite all Jews, from the simple folks, the "base" of the menora, to the elite spiritual and intellectual element, "the flowers"; God assured him that it was possible and that he was just the man to do it. The priestly headquarters is the sanctuary; its utensils symbolize the sanctification of life. Levites, next rung down the spiritual ladder, did not enter the tabernacle (Abarbanel); they assisted the priests, sang (where, before the Temple?), taught the Torah, and operated cities of retreat. Per Abarbanel, we need a large paid cadre of Torah teachers-- the Levites, who combine some worldly knowledge and agriculture; they are BELOW and guided by the true leaders-- those elite cohanim, whose great minds and souls combine all of Torah and the world (folks like Abarbanel, Rav J. Soloveichik, Hirsch, Rambam, Rav Steinsaltz, Rav Lau and the Habad Rebbe, vs. insular "gedolim"!). The cohen is to blend spiritual (the menora) and material worlds (the table), and link God (the Holy of Holies) and Israel (the menora-- see Hirsch)
NOW YOU PRIESTS, THIS IS YOUR CHARGE-- IF YOU WON'T HEAR NOR LAY IT TO HEART, TO GIVE GLORY TO MY NAME...-- I'LL SEND A CURSE UPON YOU... MY COVENANT WAS WITH HIM (Levi) FOR LIFE AND PEACE... THE TORAH OF TRUTH WAS IN HIS MOUTH AND INIQUITY WAS NOT TO BE FOUND UPON HIS LIPS; HE WALKED WITH ME IN PEACE AND UPRIGHTNESS, AND TURNED MANY AWAY FROM SIN... BUT YOU HAVE TURNED ASIDE...; YOU HAVE CAUSED MANY TO STUMBLE IN THE TORAH... THEREFORE I'VE MADE YOU DESPISED, OF LOW STATUS, BEFORE THE WHOLE PEOPLE... (Mal. 2 -- cf. those haredim who scream with hate and anger at tourists who try to take their picture at the Wall, and those who violently attacked non-Orthodox Jews, praying at the back of the Wall Plaza on Shavuot, teairng their tallitot and casting refuse on their Torah scroll).
Today's Israeli public does NOT seek Torah from many of its official religious leaders, who have poor general education and little contact with the contemporary world. Haredim won't accept government appointed rabbis anyway, so such de facto haredi rabbis really have no constituency; an official rabbi or judge should "speak (at least some of) the 70 languages", communicate with all mankind. We're glad to provide the names of learned and worldly Zionist rabbis (many in Jerusalem) to those whose worldview opposes that of their municipal "chief" rabbis-- Thank God for Rav Lau! May he soon redeem the good name of Torah in Israel. The first stage in returning modern man to God's eternal Torah is to establish it as something serious, worthy of respectful consideration by educated intelligent people. The rest will follow in time (Rav J. Soloveichik)
MIDRASH RABA 15:2 seems to translate 8:2: WHEN YOU WOULD RISE, WITH THE LIGHTS, LET ALL 7 LIGHTS ILLUMINATE THE TRUNK OF THE MENORA-- inspiring holistic enlightenment flows from a blend of ALL worldly experience with Torah, to sanctify, not replace, life. Pietistic isolationists bitterly attack such leaders -- their rage may stem from repressed awareness that their's is NOT the true path of Torah, nor is it fruitful: BEAUTIFUL IS THE STUDY OF TORAH WITH WAYS OF THE WORLD, FOR ABSORPTION WITH BOTH PRECLUDES ERROR-- ALL TORAH NOT ACCOMPANIED BY WORK WILL COME TO NOTHING AND (EVEN) CAUSE SIN (Avot 2:3). It's futile and demeaning to court such haredi leaders-- we can only live and teach our own way.
C. A SYNOPSIS OF THE READING
We begin this week's reading: GOD DICTATED TO MOSHE-- "DIRECT AHARON AND EXPLAIN TO HIM: `WHEN YOU RAISE UP THE LAMPS, THE 7 LAMPS SHOULD SHINE TOWARD THE CENTER* OF THE MENORA'" (8:1-2). Rashbam translates: ...SHOULD SHINE OPPOSITE THE FRONT OF THE MENORA (toward the table)-- but fire goes up, regardless of the direction of the wick or lamp! Perhaps the light is only SYMBOLICALLY directed, via the position of the wicks or lamps (Admon Cohen); the wicks may be bent toward the center of the menora or the table. Some say that God miraculously bent the flames as Aharon bent the wicks-- a turn in the right direction, tho seemingly impossible, can produce miracles! (cf. 1948, Entebbe, and jumping into the Red Sea, BEFORE it splits). The center candle itself must also shine "towards the center"-- i.e. it's wick or cup shouldn't face anything else.
* Lit. "face", a Biblical usage-- the FACE is the top of the human trunk, as the middle candle on the menora; it's also one's essence, as the menora's trunk, OR it's that part of a person upon which one focuses, the eyes being the window of the soul-- "face" denotes that aspect of something which faces you or engrosses your attention. The cohen lights the menora from the side facing the table (if it's oriented E-W), which would be its "face".
Moshe's to order Aharon to "raise up" the menora lamps, toward the center, when lighting them. He must kindle them until their flame rises of itself; so we must "raise up" sons and pupils-- to be independent creators, casting their own light. But the detachable lamps may have been lit on the ground, then raised up to the menora (Abarbanel)! The menorah is hewn of one solid block of gold, even its decorations of cups, flowers, and buttons, all indispensible (Men. 28:2).
HAIR! The Levites are "taken" (8:6), i.e. persuaded that they're fortunate to specially serve God, despite the difficulty and loss of worldly grandeur entailed (Rashi)-- this implies that they had and may have natural grave doubts about their role; per Ohr Hachayim, they're "taken" away from ordinary society-- per Abarbanel, to form a separate camp. ALL Levites are sprinkled with water of purification, in case ANY are unclean by intimate contact with the dead (Rashi; why this matters is unclear; per Abarbanel, it's symbolic of their new higher state (cf. the priests' consecration sin offerings, Lev. 9:2, and requiring conversion of all Ethiopians); first their bodies (except concealed parts-- e.g. armpits and genitals) are shaved, as in purifying a m'tzora, even if he is a nazir-- they forego casual pleasures, superfluous as hair, in their new role (Abarbanel). Hair's the symbolic barrier between them and Israel, to be removed (Hirsch)!
TWO BASIC PERSONALITY TYPES IN KABALA are "chesed" and "g'vurah", Avraham & Yitzchak-- creative flow vs. order and discipline, reaching out and retreating inward-- "WHY NOT?" vs. "WHY SHOULD I?". Their extremes might be dubbed diarrhetic and constipated, a hint of their infantile psychoanalytic origins. Priest and Levites may represent the finest development of g'vura; it can, however, turn into arrogant pride and aggression (e.g. Esav, Levi & Shimon, and the Maccabian monarchs). Some say that cohanim are at heart angry people-- cf. Israeli zealots. Perhaps that's why peacemaker Meshiach isn't a Levite.
HAIR and haircuts may symbolize these tendencies-- the wayward wife and m'tzora, enemies of society, must let their hair flow and grow (5:18, Lev. 13:45), to emphasize and publicise their undisciplined nature; so must the nazarite (6:5), whose wild nature can lead to extreme over-discipline, an ascetic reaction to the loose "suspected adulteress" within him (cf. A.A.). Contact with death can especially affect such a person, who's so alive! If such a wild person finds himself in a holy, tho alcohol-imbibing, society **, he'll feel threatened by his awakened impulses; he may wind up an intolerant zealot, allegedly fighting the wildness of others (e.g. Yishmael turning into Khoumani; he may keep his pure veiled wife indoors, while molesting female tourists in the shuk). Once the m'tzora is cured, or when the Nazarite's vow expired, reversion to a normal disciplined life is indicated by shaving his hair (Lev. 14:9, 6:9, 18). So Levites become the model of precise order and discipline by shaving almost all their bodily hair. The greatest Levite, the Cohen Gadol, needs daily haircuts, trimming, to be immaculately groomed.
** Both Rav Psychiatrist Avraham Twerski and Zen Master Thigh Nhat Hanh would substitute grape juice for wine in religious rituals, to avoid the tragic destruction of potential alcoholics; we might also save many lives by abandoning our polluting missles-- cars-- replacing them with bikes, skates, camels and donkeys. Do we care enough about traffic fatalities to do so? Picture how beautiful and peaceful Jaffa Gate would be w/o motorized vehicles. Can "progress" be reversed?
The Levites wash their clothes, immerse in a mikveh, and are waved before God (twice per Abarbanel, thrice per Hirsch), as zealously active (Abarbanel) agents of Israel and assistants to the cohanim; they bring sacrifices and replace the firstborn as leaders in Divine worship. They serve from 25 to 50, 25-30 being their apprenticeship period (Num. 4:3, Hul. 27)-- 5 years is also "apprenticeship" for Torah study (a Levite function); if one studies 5 years, without signs of blessed achievement, another main lifetask is indicated (Rashi). Ramban rejects this Talmudic view (!), claiming that 25-30 was for optional Levite service. Abarbanel: those 25-30 sang (with beautiful young voices!) and did guard duty; only those of full strength, 30-50 (is this true?), transported the tabernacle. Cf. I CH. 23:24: "These were the sons of Levi, for the service of God's House, FROM 20 YEARS OLD"; this may refer to apprenticeship, or to a period when proper Levites were in short supply; David indeed counts them only from 30 in 23:3!
A SECOND CHANCE: Israel celebrated Passover II. Some, who were unclean (the bearers of their tribal ancestors' coffins), couldn't eat the Paschal Lamb . Moshe & Aharon DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. Moshe rushed to God. So R. Yochanan b. Zakai suffered deathbed self-doubts-- should he have requested only Yavneh, when he surrendered to Rome? A great sage (even a rebbe) may indeed himself sometimes suffer from doubt. Those whose rabbi is always sure and right indulge in infantile father fantasies (Rav J. B. Soloveichik). One should admit what he doesn't know-- Moshe does so 4 times (Targ. Jer.)!
Last year, I attended an incredible outdoor evening, with myriads of modern Zionist Orthodox Jews, celebrating 90 years of Zionist religious education in Israel; tho it was already celebrated a long time ago in Jerusalem, this re-celebration, on the eve of the election, was a technically legal way of arousing enthusiasm and support for Mafdal, sponsor of most of the educational institutions involved, without breaking the law against coupling entertainment with political rallies, a form of bribery and undue influence. Tho Mafdal wasn't formally mentioned, Zvulun Hammer spoke and the crowd was full of kids with Mafdal stickers and flags. Some of our most intense and inspiring singers of religious songs performed, e.g. Avraham Fried, Didi Groucher, Mordecai Ben Dovid, and Avi Medina, along with children's choruses. The theme was God's gifts of The Land of Israel and Torah to Israel, accompanied by a laser show on religious Zionist education; the clear implication was that these gifts were best protected and fostered by Mafdal, probably true. This year, Mafdal, together with the other religious parties, embarked on a new activity-- fundraising for non-Orthodox religious movements; as a direct result of their stupid conversion legislation, the religious parties almost destroyed non-Orthodox support for Israel, via the Jewish Agency; the Agency had to give the Reform and Conservative movements $3,500,000 to keep them in the fold; they, in turn, ought to give a finders' fee to Shas and Mafdal.
While greatly moved by the first part of the musical evening, especially by Didi and Fried, I wondered why each had to perform separately, rather than joining together; sure enough, the second part of the program was their combined warm and friendly contribution, a mock shabbat table, together with Mona Rosenbaum and Yossi Green; but I felt that the frequent "shtick", smoke and firecrackers, detracted from the depth and holiness of their songs. All of them lacked, however, the sensitive delicate depth of their spiritual and musical father, Shlomo Carlebach z"l; neither he, nor his songs, were mentioned, tho groups spontaneously sang them on their way back to the buses.
I found myself especially and tremendously moved by Fried's passionate rendering of Tanya, Rebbe Yishmael's prayer, during the Roman persecutions of Israel, that God's mercies overcome his harsh judgements (apparently He has both traits). I joined his prayer, with tears and an intensity that I haven't experienced in a long time; but a few days later, I realized a possible psychoanalytic connection too-- perhaps the inner little Yaakov's heartfelt prayer was that his own very tough and disciplinary, tho fair and honest, immigrant father's mercies would overcome his judgment! So Rambam, bereft of his mother, who died giving birth to him, and despised (along with his mother) by his father, until he became a little genius, concluded that only great geniuses, one every generation or two, deserve to live!! We see our Daddy Who's upstairs, in Heaven, in the image of our Daddy who's downstairs, on Earth-- unless we see ourselves and our origins clearly, the goal of expensive, tedious and drawn-out Freudian psychoanalyis; but Dr. James Mann, z"l, devised a quick 12 session technique to do the job. Even Moshe is alleged to have envisioned God in the image of his father, Amram.
While one's heart would automatically yearn for the simple black-and-white faith of Mafdal, after this inspiring evening, the Torah warns us not to go after our hearts, our emotional responses and gut reactions, but to critically examine our feelings, in the light of our reason, learning and tradition; I envisioned a similar concert sponsored by the Zealots, as Rome surrounded Jerusalem; in those Temple times, the Levite chorus must have been even far more inspiring than the great Mafdal singers; surely all present knew in their deepest depths, in their very "kishkes", that God would help them defeat Rome, if they just trusted in Him-- but one man, Yochanan ben Zakei, and his disciples, knew that they suffered from mass delusion; the Jews simply weren't on a religious level to deserve miraculous Divine support, and they couldn't expect it without radical mass repentence and a complete restructuring of their society; when he saw that such a revolution was not going to happen, and that they were no match for Rome militarily, he smuggled himself out, disguised as a corpse, and made the best deal he thought he could make with the arch-enemy of God and Israel-- Vespesian-- to save Yavneh and its scholars; thus the Torah and Jewish people survived a long exile together, until that great day when they'd both return to their land, Rome long out of the picture. Thank God Rav Yochanan wasn't carried away by the concert. Yet he never knew if he would have gotten away with asking Vespesian for more, e.g. the Temple and Jerusalem, and was afraid that he might go to hell for not doing so, driven by fear that he'd wind up with nothing.
So, in our present situation, supporting Mafdal is not just affirming Judaism and a Jewish Israel, but commitment to a right wing political viewpoint, which many Orthodox Jews deem ultimately destructive. It might be better if Mafdal, as in the past, was just devoted to creating a truly Jewish Israel, leaving politics and enforcing religion by legislative fiat to the individual consciences and judgment of its leaders and members. Then its thousands of deserters to Meimad could return home to Mafdal in good conscience, rather than supporting The Third Way or Yisroel B'Aliya, who are concerned with both Jewish identity and religious freedom; nevertheless, one of Meimad's leading rabbis, Aharon Lichtenstein, urged all Jews to support Mafdal, the sole hope for a truly Jewish Israel, despite his Meimadian and Maimonidian reservations about its political positions.
When people needed help, and Moshe didn't know how to help them, he rushed to God for His response (here, re some Jews' claim for religious equality, and for Misses Tzlafchad, in their inheritance claim). But when he didn't know the correct punishment for the blasphemer and Shabat violator, he just put them in custody, PATIENTLY AWAITING God's decision. Rav JBS concludes that a true leader is eager to help, reticent to condemn or punish. Unfortunately, many today are the opposite-- cf. Shavuot at The (Holy?) Wall.
God allowed a 2nd Passover sacrifice, but ONLY for those UNABLE to observe the 1st; proselytes sacrifice too. From the day that the tabernacle was erected, a cloud covered it by day and a fire-like apparition (A. Kaplan) by night; the Jews travelled only when the Divine cloud moved-- cf. our 1900 year desert exile; God's spirit eventually leaves our deserted diaspora synagogues and yeshivos. Two silver trumpets were crafted, blown by the priests, to assemble the people and princes and signal their travel. Tru'ah, blown in war, signifies Divine Justice (Ramban)-- cf. "Joshua blew the horn at Jericho, Jericho... and the walls came tumblin' down". T'kiah, signifiying Divine Mercy, was sounded at appointed holidays and jolly days, linking Israel with God. So we must proclaim holidays to celebrate our return to Israel and the defeat of Israel's enemeies (Ibn Ezra 10:10; thus Rav Shalom Gold sees Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim as divinely ordained-- listen to his TOP tapes, rejecting haredi rejection of our holy contemporary holidays of gratitude to God).
Iyar 20 they left Sinai for Paran; they'd been there 10 days short of a year for de-Egyptianization, spiritual hachshara (Hadrush V'han'um). Israel was a few weeks' journey away. Their marching order was: 1. Judah's tripartite group. 2. Gershon and Merari Levites. 3. Reuven's T-group. 4. Kehot Levites. 5. Ephrayim's Rachelian T-group. 6. Dan & Co. (some reverse 2 & 3). Chovav, Moshe's father-in-law or brother-in-law (Kaplan), is urged to stay and share Israel's good-- a share in the land (Targum Yonaton). "Good" is mentioned here 5 times-- his descendants got 500 Amahs of rich Jericho land (Baal Haturim). Yitro declines; his final decision, after persuasion, is unstated and debated (Sifri). We dissuade converts, e.g. Ruth; yet Hillel converted Israeli residents, tho not fully committed, IF they'd continue to study. Ibn Ezra explains the mandatory presence of Israel's resident non-Jews at the post-sabbatical national Torah reading (Deut. 31:11-12) as an attempt to inspire them to become Jewish, or at least to join in the Torah's Jewish dream, guided by its Noachide Code for non-Jews (contact TOP for information).
The 100 mile 3 day trek (Ramban), Sinai to Paran, was accompanied by the ark of war, containing the BROKEN tablets (Sifri), which went AHEAD 3 days; Israel had a 3-in-1 day miraculous trek. Moshe's prayers, when the ark journeyed and rested, 10:35-6, are set off by inverted brackets-- shaped like the letter "nun"; this implies the existence of 3 books within Numbers, 7, a "Septateuch", in the alleged "Pentateuch"! (Shab. 115b, 116a, Yad. 111). This passage is out of place (it should be after 10:21 or 1:50; 50= "nun"), in order to separate 2 sin-full passages-- rushing away from Sinai (10:33), and murmuring vs. God (11:1; Rashi, Ramban, Shabat 116): "When the ark set forth, Moshe said: `Rise, God, that Your (active) enemies (e.g. Amalek) be scattered (as the Babelians and USSR, not "destroyed") and may THOSE WHO HATE YOU flee from Your Presence (some folks just can't take spiritual Jerusalem)'.
Whoever hates Israel hates "Him who spoke and the world came to be" (Rashi, 10:35; Ps. 83:3-4). God's Kingdom of Priests and Holy Nation (Ex. 19:6) constantly preaches that the world and mankind have meaning and purpose; this inflames the wild pagan soul, which conquers all but itself. When the ark rested, Moshe prayed that God return to the 10,000's, the 1000's, of Israel (for rest & reflection, OR "that Israel return"-- Kaplan)-- so we see that God's Presence requires 22,000 Jews (Rashi-- cf. the 22M Levites, counted in Naso)! Torah has a long battle thru history, but will eventually triumph and rest among the descendants of Israel. We now contrast Moshe's will, at one with God's, with Israel's mood-- sullen, rebellious, and ungrateful (Hirsch).
God's fire consumed the EDGE (katzeh) of the camp, when the new olim kvetched, in a post-Sinai depression at Tavara; EDGE refers to their leaders-- a fringe element of non-Jewish hangers-on OR hedonistic materialistic elders, who had to be replaced-- Rashi. Today's cheap, apparently effective, emotional appeals to Israeli voters show our still so low educational and cultural level-- Israel is now the 23rd nation in quality of life, measured by infant mortality, education, income, etc.; the highest level Arab nations, the Gulf States, start at #38. Iceland, Norway and Canada are at the top of the list. The Jews, weary from the fast march, forgot the need to QUICKLY reach pure Israel and set up their model holy nation (some postpone aliya until it's easy; yet we do pray that God bring us UPRIGHT to our land). Moshe's prayers stopped this raging fire. The Jews cried for meat, egged on by the hangers-on; they moaned for fish, melons, and vegetables, instead of spiritually infused manna-- it was attractive, tasty, and cookable, falling upon the dew each night (see The Living Torah's various descriptions). It resembled the ultimately satisfying repast-- nursing (Rashi; cf. Freud, Eli Sagan)!
MOSHE HEARD THE PEOPLE CRYING BY (or FOR ITS) FAMILIES... GOD GOT REALLY ANGRY AND IT WAS BAD IN MOSHE'S EYES (11:10). PUBLIC protests BY family groups now began; perhaps they wept FOR their families, longing for their newly forbidden incestuous relations (Yoma 75a-- cf. Moshe's father's marriage to his aunt). Per surrealistic Klei Yakar, "nun" here refers to fish, a symbol of fecundity (Noon is an Israeli fish packer). Hidden in their complaints about "fish" and cucumbers (11:1-5) was incestuous lust; their "religious" justification was a perverse desire to procreate, for 22,000 Jews are needed for Divine Imminence! (but they already had them! cf. Misses Lot and married "religious" women, who meet their "spiritually inspiring" soulmate boyfriends at the Wall; the 2 letters "nun" in "complaining", 11:1, are "taken out" to surround the 22M message in 10:35-36; what's left is the word "lusting" !!!)-- God responds to Israel's destructive fire with His destructive fire.
Moshe feels that he's failed (Hirsch). "He was to bring the people to... human perfection-- and they're sitting on the ground, crying about leeks and onions!" (cf. B. Shveig, the olah who returns, kvetching about leaking milk bags, and the yored who worships cars and ranch houses; a farsighted Israeli government might allow one to buy a nice car, TV and VCR, without buying them another, a huge socialist de facto fine for the guiltless). Moshe felt inadequate, as at the burning bush. How could he lead others? He begs to die, rather than see God destroy Israel (Rashi, 11:12-15).
God then tells him to appoint 70 NEW elders, persuade them to share his leadership role, and give them public honor; the previous 70 died at Tavarah, where they repeated their Sinai fressing frenzy; this was also the true sin of Nadav and Avihu, per Midrash Tanchuma-- see Rashi, 11:16; but, on Ex. 24:10, Rashi suggests that their very looking at God's Revelation was itself their sin. God promises a month's supply of meat, but the Jews will eventually find it repulsive. MOSHE SAID: "I'M AMONG A PEOPLE OF 600M FOOTMEN.. WOULD THERE BE ENOUGH (meat), EVEN IF ALL THE SHEEP AND CATTLE WERE SLAUGHTERED ...?" GOD SAID TO MOSHE: "IS GOD'S HAND SHORT? NOW YOU'LL SEE IF MY WORD WILL BE FULFILLED OR NOT!" (11:21-3). Per R. Akiba, Moshe indeed expressed doubt about God's Promise-- but how could he doubt God, especially after the miracles of Egypt, the Red Sea, and Sinai? Perhaps he doubted that God could do the huge catering job in a NATURAL way-- Israel was now unworthy of open miracles. They had to see God only in His natural acts. Per Rav Shimon, the notion of a magnificent last supper was abhorent to Moshe. Per Raban Gamliel, Moshe tells God that the people just like to complain-- nothing will satisfy them! God replies-- "just watch!" Moshe left, to inform (or appease) the people.
The 70 elders prophesied ONCE, imbued with Divine Spirit; but Eldad and Medad also prophesied, WITHIN the camp; they had resigned as elders, for there were 72 candidates for 70 slots, 6 from each tribe; they may have felt unworthy of the honor (OR they may have been excluded by lots-- see Rashi, Hirsch, San. 17a). THE LAD (perhaps Moshe's son Gershom-- Rashi; others say he was Yehoshua) RAN AND TOLD MOSHE: "ELDAD & MEDAD PROPHESY IN THE CAMP". YEHOSHUA SAID: "MY LORD MOSHE, DESTROY THEM!". MOSHE SAID TO HIM: "ARE YOU JEALOUS FOR MY SAKE? WOULD THAT ALL GOD'S PEOPLE WERE PROPHETS..." (11:27-9). Pupils are often jealous of their master's honor and exclusivity, tho he himself isn't! A good master needn't be one's one and only (A.Z. 19); some even try to impose their own master on others (The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to order his followers not to call him The Messiah-- but their obsessive zeal for Meshiach Now, often exceeding their enthusiasm for God Himself, overrode even their equally obsessive blind obedience to their always-right rebbe). A bad or petty master or religious establishment not only does little, but resents the sincere efforts of others who do!
PERCEPTIVE PROPHETS: Rav Yehuda Henkin notes that Eldad & Medad continued to prophesy (11:27-- present tense), tho the 70 only had a one-shot experience (11:25). Their secret of success was remaining IN THE CAMP, perceptive and sensitive to the people and their needs. Had they left the camp (cf. Tzahal), prophesy would have left them (should municipal and national chief rabbis and judges have to be graduates of Tzahal and university too? Yael Dayan, supra, compares Tzahal officers' closeness with, and concern for, their men with the miserable treatment of Egyptiasn soldiers by their cowardly, self-indulgent, and foppish officers). Suspicious Joshua says: "shut them in"-- if Eldad and Medad are shut off from the folk, their prophecy will end. So God begins Jeremiah's sacrificial mission, by twice asking him what he sees-- he replies: "an almond rod" and "a seething pot facing north". God tells him "You've seen well!"-- these symbolize impending Jewish doom (1:11-14). His prophetic test is awareness of, and sensitivity to, life about him (cf. Thigh supra); he somehow (how?) senses which objects in his field of vision, God's constant audio-visual broadcast to man, are significant, tho their message eludes him.
Traditional commentators, however, claim that the almond rod and pot are shown him by God. Why then does God praise him for "seeing well" the rod? Radak's guess is that the rod was leafless, w/o blossoms-- God praises him for keenly perceiving that it's an almond rod! Abarbanel says that God gave Jeremiah a general sense of future developments; he himself then "saw", envisioned, the right prophetic metaphors-- the almond and the pot. God responds: "Right on! A fine choice!" Per Rav C. P. Sheinberg, famed for his many fringes, symbolizing his deep commitment to Torah and mitzvos, God saves part of His Torah for every Jew to discover-- what's your own explanation?
Moshe's wish will come true, it can happen to you-- in the Messianic era, no man will teach his neighbor; all Jews will be prophets, know God (Jer. 31:33, Yoel 3). Messiah, a great mortal human teacher, will ONLY talk the Jews into aliya, not teach them Torah; God will then directly teach secrets of His Torah in Israel, clearing up its many ambiguities and conflicts. The Messiah will teach non-Jews, who need a human go-between, as did Sinai's Jews (Rav Chanan, Genesis Raba 98:9). The meat-starved folk went wild with quail (I used Supersol's pickled quail eggs for my seder!), and many died from God's aroused wrath at Kivros Hataavah; they journeyed on to Chatzaros. Miryam told Aharon that celibate Moshe was proud and cruel, hurting his (passionate?) Cushite wife. Tho also prophets, they lived with their spouses (is anyone today even on their level?-- cf. Avraham b. Maimon & Tingh The Monk supra). God summoned them & told them that most humble, other-oriented, Moshe was way beyond their criticism. Miryam was stricken with tzaraat-- Moshe prayed for her recovery; the entire camp waited for her during her commuted 7 day sentence, then continued to Paran (pity, don't disdain, a punished sinner-- all sin, we too. But be especially critical of your teacher, lest you ape his shortcomings!-- Rav. A. Kook).
D. THE HAFTARA is ZECHARIA 2:14-4:7
God returns with Judah, to dwell in Zion; the Jews are now Priests to many nations, who are attached to God. Jerusalem will now be chosen forever. All who opposed God and the Jews will be struck dumb. Satan's rejected, Jerusalem accepted, despite the dirty clothes of Yehoshua, the high priest (= Jewry, crushed and sullied by demonic Crusades, Holocaust, Western TV, etc.; Herzl, Ben Gurion and Co. were appalled by the broken helpless primitive old Yishuv and tried to build a new healthy modern Jew in Tel Aviv; but they threw out the baby with the bathwater and lost so much of Jewish holiness, tradition, and sanctity in the process-- may Rav Lau succeed in restoring our national balance, every Yeshiva student in the army and every soldier in a Yeshiva; see, buy and disseminate this message on our bumper sticker!). Satan (the media?) stands at the right hand (power, Tzahal?) of Yehoshua to accuse him of "dirty clothes", improper behavior. The angel gives Yehoshua clean new clothing (modern Israel replaces exile, and Religious Zionism replaces secular socialism). Yehoshua must purify himself inwardly too (Hirsch). First he must study, fulfill, and guard the Torah himself; THEN (and only then?) he'll influence the public to do so; the new Temple will be a true Divine abode. Jewish "active movers" will develop the world's true potential; it is presently guided by angels-- "those who stand still". He then sees the gold menora, symbol of Divine light and spirit, the ultimate means of Jewish Messianic redemption of mankind from Zion.