Thursday, May 09, 2013

Parshat B'midbar, 5773/2013 thoughts

Basics here.

Okay, first of all, if they list the leaders of the tribes one more time, I'll shoot someone (with phaser on "stun" setting, of course).

Second . . . well, yes, let's talk about "seconds," etc.  Avraham's/Abraham's firstborn son, Yishmael/Ishmael, was expelled from the family compound, and his place as family leader was given to secondborn son Yitzchak/Isaac.  Yitzchak's firstborn son, Esav/Esau, was hoodwinked out of both his birthright and his blessing by secondborn son Yaakov/Jacob.  Reuven/Reuben, Yaakov's eldest son, had the leadership role taken from him and given to Yehudah/Judah.  Even Yosef/Joseph, Yaakov's favorite child, was the firstborn of his mother (Rachel) but not of his father.   And, to boot, when the time came for Yaakov to bless Yosef's sons, he blessed Efraim/Ephraim, the younger son, before Menashe/Manasses, the older son.

Fast-forward to Moshe Rabbeinu/Moses our teacher--Perhaps one reason why HaShem chose Moshe was that he was his parents' third child, after Miriam and Aharon/Aaron.  His father, Amram, was an exception to the rule--he was K'hat's oldest son.  But K'hat was Levi's second son.  Yet the descendents of K'hat through Amram got not only the K'hunah/Priesthood, but, at least in the Midbar/Wilderness years, the privilege of transporting the most sacred components of the Mishkan/Tabernacle.

In my opinion, the selection of Aharon and his sons as kohanim/priests and the assignment of superior "portage" honors to the remaining descendants of K'hat are not only classic cases of nepotism (be it HaShem's or Moshe's, depending on your point of view), but are also in keeping with the biblical pattern of (almost) always avoiding giving leadership positions to person(s) who would have been the obvious choice(s), back in biblical times.

Conservadox thinks that "Torah’s devaluation of the first-born . . .  is part of its devaluation of paganism . . . "


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