Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st Aliya: Aharon is instructed to light the Menorah, and the Menorah’s construction is reviewed. Moshe is commanded to inaugurate the Leviyim into the service of the Mishkan.
2nd Aliya: The Leviyim are inaugurated into Temple service. Their term of service was from age 25 to age 50.
3rd Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel keep their second Pesach since leaving Egypt. The laws of Pesach Shaynie – the makeup Pesach (one month after Pesach) are taught for those who were unable to bring the Pascal Lamb at the appropriate time.
4th Aliya: The movement of the Pillar of Clouds as the indicators of when to set or break the camp is identified. In addition to the Pillar of Clouds, Moshe is commanded to make two silver trumpets that would be used to herald the traveling of the encampment, or the movement of troops during war.
5th Aliya: The description of the nation’s travels from the desert of Sinai is recorded. Moshe approaches Yisro, who refuses his offer to join them in Eretz Yisroel.
6th Aliya: The two verses of “When the Ark went forth” are stated, and then things begin to unravel. The main body of this Aliya describes the nation’s complaints against the physical conditions of their dwelling in the desert. The Manna is described in contrast to the nation’s desire for “real food”. Moshe expresses his frustrations as leader, and Hashem promises to send quail to satisfy the people’s desire for meat. Moshe is instructed to appoint a Sanhedrin to help him govern and teach the nation. The 70 Elders are divinely confirmed, and Eldad and Maydad prophesies the transition of leadership from Moshe to Yehoshua.
7th Aliya: The quail descend upon the camp in such quantity that each person collected 1000 lb. of meat. Aharon and Miriam speak Lashon Harah about Moshe, resulting in Hashem confirming Moshe as His preeminent servant and prophet. Miriam is afflicted with Tzaraat.
This week’s Haftorah records the prophesies of Zechariya to Yehoshua the Kohain Gadol.
In 3390 – 371 b.c.e, Zerubavel along with Yehoshua led 40,00 Jews back to Israel. They began building the 2nd Bais Hamikdash only to be stopped when Cyrus withdrew his permission. In this prophesy, Zechariya showed Yehoshua that he could be worthy of effecting forgiveness for the Bnai Yisroel, in spite of his own short-comings. He was shown a vision of the Menorah (the obvious connection to our Parsha) representing the eventual purity of the Jews, and their acceptance by the other nations.
The less obvious connection to our Parsha may be the concept of Teshuva and its relationship to the fulfillment of our mission. Just as the generation of the Exodus struggled with who they were in contrast with who they should have been, so too, in the building of the second Bais Hamikdash and the second Jewish commonwealth, Zerubavel and Yehoshua struggled with the realities of who they were in contrast to their undertaking of resurrecting the soul of their People.