Parshat Behaalotecha: Enlightening ourselves with God’s love

The awareness of love as our true essence and identity is the beginning of our own individual enlightenment.

“Speak to Aaron and say to him: ‘When you light (behaalotecha) the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah.” (Numbers 8:2)

The message is also to enlighten ourselves. The seven lamps contain several meanings, as the seven days of Creation also encompass multiple aspects of life in its material and spiritual dimension. In the same way that six days exist as a preparation for the Shabbat, six lamps are lit facing the one in the center.

In this “formation” there is no “sequence” of days because the lamps are branches of the same one-piece candelabra. Hence, every aspect of material life must be integrated as one facing (aimed to) our unity with the Creator through His love as our common bond with Him.

This unity is the result of a refined (hammered) work with which we clear from materialistic illusions all levels of consciousness through and toward love’s ways and attributes.

“(…) from its base to its flower it was hammered work.” (8:4)

The lighting of the lamps is the first step to elevate our consciousness in order to fulfill the Creator’s will. In the enlightenment of His love we gather our best thoughts, emotions, feelings and passions to turn them into our constant guides when we approach the illusions of ego’s materialistic desires.

“Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them.” (8:6)

In this sense we have to discern the choicest in us among the best of our qualities.

“Thus shall you set apart the Levites from the midst of the children of Israel, and the Levites shall become Mine.” (8:14)

The Levites, as well as the priests represent the best in us, love as the common bond with God’s love.

In the permanent awareness of love we move through the ways and attributes that always protect us and guard us from the perils and dangers of the desolation and avarice of materialism.

“(…) and according to the cloud’s departure from over the tent, and afterwards, the children of Israel would travel, and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would encamp.” (9:17)

This means that we must be vigilant and warn ourselves about the obstacles and challenges we face in the life we have, and the material reality in which we live.

“If you go to war in your land against an adversary that oppresses you, you shall blow a teruah (a series of short blasts) with the trumpets and be remembered before the Lord your God, and thus be saved from your enemies.” (10:9)

In our awareness of love all mirages and illusions disappear.

“So it was, whenever the ark set out, Moses would say, ‘Arise, O Lord, may Your enemies be dispersed and may those who hate You flee from You’.” (10:35)

In the same way that we blast the trumpets to remain loyal to God’s ways and attributes in times of darkness, we also must do it in the times when we celebrate our connection with the Creator.

“On the days of your rejoicing, on your festivals and on your new-moon celebrations, you shall blow on the trumpets for your ascent-offerings and your peace sacrifices, and it shall be a remembrance before your God; [because] I am the Lord your God.” (10:10)

The reminder in this portion of the Torah is to call our attention regarding how we must handle the lower levels of the material aspects of human life.

“The people were looking to complain, and it was evil in the ears of the Lord. The Lord heard and His anger flared, and a fire from the Lord burned among them, consuming the extremes of the camp.” (11:1)

In this context the yearning for ephemeral materialistic pleasures and the illusions of lower desires separate us from the transcendence of love. Ego’s materialistic desires do not understand love’s delights, and crave for the ultimate emptiness of ego’s desires.

“But the multitude among them began to have strong cravings. Then even the children of Israel once again began to cry, and they said, ‘Who will feed us meat?'” (11:4), “But now, our bodies are dried out, for there is nothing at all; we have nothing but manna to look at.” (11:6)

God’s love knows the material shape of our lives, and the lengthy refinement and re-directing needed by every material aspect toward His ways. This progression implies an experiential process in order to discern between truth and illusion.

This is why the Creator gave us with free will. Hence, living in the world is an educational experience in which we learn from the “meat” of materialism until we can make a difference between the darkness of ego’s illusions and the light of love.

“You shall eat [meat] it not one day, not two days, not five days, not ten days, and not twenty days, but even for a full month until it comes out of your nose and nauseates you. Because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and you cried before Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?'” (11:19-20)

Again, it is our choice to live in ego’s material fantasies (Egypt) or in love’s ways and attributes, which are our true identity. Love conquers and overcomes the obstacles and hardships of material life.

The prophet also reminds us this in the haftarah for this portion.

“(…) ‘not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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