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Beha’alotecha: “I was filled with dread and I panicked.” Why?

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I was filled with dread and I panicked. What had happened?

I had given an address to a large audience and then I stepped down from the stage without returning my lapel mic back to the organisers.

Twenty minutes later, I suddenly felt it was still on me – and it was on! I started to panic! What had I said during the previous 20 minutes? Who had I been talking to? What private conversations had been heard by others?

Much to my relief, actually, I hadn’t said anything that turned out to be embarrassing but this reminded me of a passage in Parshat Beha’alotecha, in which Aharon and Miriam maligned their brother Moshe. They said (Bamidbar 12:2),

“Does God only speak to him? He speaks to us as well.”

insinuating that Moshe thought he was greater than any of them. The Torah then says,

“Vayishma Hashem.” – “And Hashem heard.”

The Sifri comments that from these two words ‘vayishma Hashem’ we understand that nobody else was there. It was a private conversation between Mirian and Aharon. Moshe wasn’t aware of it. But ‘vayishma Hashem’ – God did hear.

Here Hashem wants us always to be mindful of an important teaching, in Pirkei Avot (2:1). Wherever we are and whatever we do

“Da ma lemalla mimcha,” – “Know what is above you,”

“Ayin roah,” – “An eye that sees,”

“v’ozen shoma’at,” – “and an ear that hears,”

“vechol maasecha besefer nichtavim.” – “and all your deeds are recorded.”

We should never forget that whatever it is we’re doing or saying in life, it’s never totally off the record, because the mic is always on.

Shabbat shalom.