Parshas Beha’alotcha – Moshe’s Radiance

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

Moses claims he is unable to provide the Jews with meat and other such foods. G-d tells Moses to gather the Seventy Elders and they will shoulder the burden with Him. G-d will radiate Moses’ light onto them as well, and will send the Jews Manna and quail from Heaven.


Moses’ light was able to radiate upon the Seventy Elders, without causing him loss, because he was like a candle on a Menorah wherein many candles could be lit from the one, without it losing anything.


Moses’ light was able to radiate upon the Seventy Elders, without causing him loss, for he was like a candle which does not lose anything when many candles are lit from it. Indeed the verse (Deuteronomy 43:10) testifies, “No one ever rose amongst the Jews as a Prophet like Moses.”


  1. Why does Rashi place Moses’ “candle” on a Menorah? Drawing an analogy from a plain candle seems enough.
  2. What premise dictates that Moses might have lost something by illuminating the Elders, thereby necessitating an analogy and a proof from scripture to show otherwise?
  3. What added explanation can be garnered by the Midrash including the verse from Deuteronomy?


When a lofty sage must teach a very simple person, completely out of the sage’s grade, the sage must go through a descent to be able to relate to the simpleton.


Since the Elders where incomparably lower in stature than Moses, one might think that Moses lost some of his level in order to reach the Elders. Both Rashi and the Midrash explain how this was not necessary:

Rashi, who wrote his commentary for the simple, explains that Moses was “one candle on a Menorah.” I.e. at that moment, when his flock had descended to ungratefully demand meat etc., he was demoted along with them, thereby precluding a need for further descent to reach the Elders; they were on the same “candelabra” as he.

The Midrash, which contains the Inner Dimension of the Torah, explains that, on the contrary, it was due to Moses’ unbounded greatness that he was able to reach down to the Elders without actually descending one iota. Hence the relevance of the verse from Deuteronomy that extolls Moses’ greatness.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 8, Behaalosecha)


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