Beha’alotekha

Numbers 8:1 – 12:16

(When You Raise Up)
Beha’alotekha describes the Israelites’ departure from Sinai, beginning with directions for lighting of the Menorah. God also commands the making of two silver trumpets which are to be sounded at the time of setting forth on the journey.

THE BLESSING

BEHA’ALOTEKHA DESCRIBES THE INNER GESTURE of “setting forth” as we continue to move through the wilderness. Our journeys are in some sense always just beginning. Wherever we stand in our lives can be perceived as the place of infinite potential, the intersection of Being and Becoming, the threshold of the beyond. From this vast potential of “here and now” we are either sent to who we are becoming or we get stuck in the traps of illusion or fear.

The blessings of Light and Sound are given to us to help us break through these obstacles and move forward on our path. The blessing of Light and the blessing of Sound can inspire us forward. They are the tools we use to release ourselves from the slavery we carry within.

The name Beha’alotekha refers to the “lighting” of the menorah, the golden candelabra in the Mishkan. This is the fire that lights our way forward. The gold of the sun is awakened in us through the service of the menorah.

The silver trumpet is a priestly instrument. The silver of the moon is awakened in us through the service of the trumpet. Its tones serve two purposes: first to call us to our center, and then to send us on our journey.

We journey by stages. When we are ready to move to the next stage of our journey we must open ourselves to the call of the silver trumpets. Their sounding will help to gather us — giving us access to both inner and outer resources. And their sounding will reveal the obstacles before us — clearing the way forward and sending us newly inspired to our destiny.

THE SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE

WE EMBARK UPON THIS JOURNEY of purification without knowing how far or how long it will be. Obstacles arise in the form of resistance. Resistance arises in the form of cravings, doubts, weariness, restlessness, or aversion.

I used to think, “If only I didn’t have such resistance I could really do my spiritual work.” Then I realized that recognizing and confronting resistance IS my spiritual work. The very obstacles that arise to block my way home serve to show me the face of my own enslavement. Looking into that face I will know where my work lies. The face of resistance always wears a mask. It masquerades as THE TRUTH. My work is in unmasking resistance and freeing myself from its compelling power so that as I stand at the crossroads of this moment, I can choose my path in conscious, loving clarity.

Having left Sinai to renew their journey, we hear the story of the Israelites’ murmuring and rebellion in the wilderness. Their behavior is a merciless mirror which reflects our own tendencies towards resistance on the spiritual path.

THE SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE OF BEHA’ALOTEKHA is to hear the murmurings and rebellions of our ancestors and recognize them as our own places of enslavement calling for freedom and healing.

When I witness my ancestors’ complaints, I must listen to my own bitter whining. Listening deeply with compassion, I hear the fear inside my voice and I remember when that fear was born. Then I know that my spiritual work will be to heal the wounds that gave birth to that fear and to work at cultivating trust.

When I witness my ancestors’ lust for meat and for the food of Egypt, I turn to investigate my own cravings. When I discover a hunger that seems never to be satisfied; a thirst that is never quenched; a hole inside me that can never be filled; then my spiritual work consists of investigating that craving by entering into that “hole” and experiencing the emptiness within. This will lead me to Truth.

When I witness my ancestors’ weariness with their journey, I turn to examine my own lack of energy for practice. When I hear their expressions of doubt in the leadership of Moses, my work becomes that of unmasking the face of my own doubt and coming to understand how and why I sometimes silence the voice of the prophet within me.

GUIDANCE FOR PRACTICE

When taking on a spiritual practice it is important to recognize and identify the voices of resistance. Some people sit down to meditate and soon begin to fall asleep. All the energy seems to drain out of them the moment they become relaxed enough to meditate. Others feel so restless that they want to jump out of their skin and they find it difficult to sit still. For some people, resistance wears the mask of longing or craving or ambition. Their mind reaches out for what’s next. Others find themselves caught in aversion. Nothing seems quite right. The mind finds something wrong with the teacher, the practice, the pillow, the temperature or the place. And for some people, the voice of doubt sabotages their practice, never letting them completely surrender.

The more you can recognize the voice of your resistance, the less you will find yourself at its mercy. Once identified, it loses the power to call itself THE TRUTH. And you can then begin to call on the blessing of Light and the blessing of Sound in clearing the way, gathering your attention and setting forth on the path that is before you.

Resistance Meditation

IDENTIFY A VOICE OR FORCE OF RESISTANCE. It may be disguised as sleepiness, restlessness, craving, aversion, or doubt. You might recognize yourself in the complaining and rebelliousness of our ancestors. Unmask those voices with great compassion.

CLOSE YOUR EYES and light the golden menorah inside you. Imagine its light shining forward dissolving all obstacles, melting all resistance and renewing your resolve.

FIND THE TWO SILVER TRUMPETS and let the priest or priestess within you blow them with enough force and beauty to energize, calm, and inspire your way forward.

Thank you to Sylvia Boorstein for her teachings on the hindrances.


Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land
©2006 Shefa Gold. All rights reserved.