Haftarah for Beha’aloscha

The end of this chapter refers to the Messianic era when Israel will rejoice and G-d will dwell among them. Many nations will join Israel in the worship of the One G-d, Who will dwell in their midst. G-d will again choose Israel and Jerusalem and the rest of the nations will be silent when G-d takes this action.

Chapter 3

G-d showed Zechariah a vision of Joshua the Kohein Gadol (High Priest) standing before an angel with prosecuting angel nearby to accuse him. G-d reprimanded the prosecuting angel saying that He chose Jerusalem and that Joshua the Kohein Gadol was pulled from the fire (referring to an incident related in Sanhedrin 93a). Joshua the Kohein Gadol was wearing filthy garments, representative of sins. (The Talmud says that his sons married non-Jewish women.) The angel instructed the dirty clothes to be removed from Joshua and be replaced with clean clothes and a pure cap placed on his head, saying to Joshua, “I have removed your sin from you.”

The angel instructed Joshua saying, “Thus says G-d: If you walk My ways and follow My instructions, then you will judge over My Temple and guard My courtyards.” Joshua was told that he and his companions (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the Book of Daniel) are holy men, worthy of having miracles performed for them. G-d will send His servant, the “sprout” or “shoot” of David (Moshiach, the Messiah). G-d has placed before Joshua the cornerstone of the second Temple, whose foundation had already begun to be laid. People will look at it and open their eyes seven times as wide when they see it. G-d will thwart the plans of those who are trying to stop the construction of the second Temple and He will remove the sin of the land in one day. (Rashi says he does not know what day that is.) When the Temple is completed, the people will live in peace under their vines and trees.

The accusing angel in this chapter is called the Satan (pronounced sah-tahn, not say-tin). It is the Satan’s first appearance in the Bible, preceding his better known role in Iyov (the Book of Job). The Satan is not a “devil” in Jewish thought, nor does he rule over Hell; he is merely an angel whose job is to serve as a prosecutor.

Chapter 4

The angel who spoke with Zechariah returned and woke him up. He asked Zechariah what he had seen in his vision. Zechariah responded that he saw a golden menorah with its bowl of oil on top and seven lamps (in which the oil and wicks were placed). There were seven tubes going to the lamps. (Rashi says seven tubes to each lamp; the Radak says seven altogether, one going to each lamp.) There were two olive trees next to the menorah, one on either side. Zechariah asked the angel what these represent. (Rashi, based on materials that we will see shortly, explains that the menorah ran on “automatic.” The trees would beat themselves into the vats and the oil would flow into the lamps by itself.) The angel answered Zechariah that this is the word of G-d to Zerubbabel saying, “The Temple will be built not by military force or physical might but by the spirit of G-d, which He will place upon Darius.” Who do the officers of the other nations think they are to stop G-d’s Temple from being built? They will have no more power before Zerubbabel. When he brings out the cornerstone everyone will cheer how beautiful the Temple will be.”

Excerpted from The OU’s Nach Yomi