Sometimes we need to brake and reverse before we accelerate.

It is troubling to think that Hashem could have ever conferred His presence on Bil’am, who, as the narrative makes clear, was of deplorable character. His greed, stubbornness, and negativity are all overwhelmingly featured as he deceives Balak and tries to outwit Hashem. Why did Hashem select such a reprehensible person to be a navi?

Sh’lach: Don’t Tell Me What to Do!

Sefer BaMidbar is filled with one tragic mistake after another. This week’s disaster is the episode of the spies who convinced B’nei Yisrael to reject Eretz Yisrael. Despite Hashem’s promises that He would safely lead the people into the Land, the m’raglim scared the nation with an evil report, replete with lies that Hashem was not capable of conquering the native giants. Considering that Hashem had taken the Jews out of Egypt for the express purpose of immigrating to Israel, the people’s refusal to march onward marked not only a rejection of Eretz Yisrael, but of G-d Himself. Consequently, Hashem declared that the current generation would not be allowed to enter the Land they had scorned.

Sometimes we outgrow our mitzvos.

While there is a wide range of opinions regarding the exact sin of Moshe Rabbeinu at Mei M’rivah, most of us were taught that Moshe extracted water by hitting the rock, instead of speaking to it as Hashem had commanded (Rashi, BaMidbar 20:11-12).

What makes a student “bright”?

This week’s sidrah opens with the daily commandment to light the Menorah in the Mikdash. Rashi (BaMidbar 8:2) explains that the name of the parshah, B’Haaloscha, describes this process as causing fire to “go up.” The kohen would hold the igniter to each cup of oil until the flame took hold and was able to rise on its own (Shabbos 21a).

Another episode of conflict, I presume?

The parshah may bear the name of Korach, but we cannot forget the volatile role of Dasan and Aviram, the troublemakers who jumped at any opportunity to disrespect Moshe and challenge his authority. In fact, it is possible that they were the true instigators behind Korach and the entire rebellion (see Ohr HaChayim, BaMidbar 26:9)!

We gain from giving, not taking.

Parshas Naso, the longest sidrah in the Torah, contains a wide variety of topics and mitzvos, and the commentators work hard to explain the connection between successive topics. There are many lessons to be learned from the Torah’s juxtapositions.