19 Feb Parshas Tetzaveh; To Light.., To Light.., L’Chaim
Parshas Tetzaveh; To Light.., To Light.., L’Chaim
Inspired by the teaching of HaRav Yitzchak Ginsburgh and Rabbi Moshe Genuth
According to Torah, this world is the World of Tikun, Rectification. It is our duty as Jews to live as the guidelines of the Torah teach us. In being a light unto nations, it is our obligation to teach these principles of righteous conduct to the rest of the Nations of World. This is part of the process known as Tikun Olam, the rectification of ourselves and the world.
The inner dimensions of the Torah teach us that all that exists is in some way a reflection of G-d.
Perhaps most significant are the understandings that the Torah itself is a microcosm of the Universe, a Jew is a microcosm of the Universe, The Land of Israel is a microcosm of the, and as we learn in our present Parshas the Mishkan itself is also a microcosm of the Universe.
What we do as Jews and how we do it is directly connected to the perfection or deficiency of the World.
As Jews it is our obligation to believe and know that all that exists began first from the Infinite Creator Himself, manifesting first as a spiritual realm and then became manifest as a physical reality. The closer we can align ourselves with, and incorporate into ourselves the Will of G-d, the more we can acquire a connection to His Infinite Light. The reward will be greater to carry out our purpose to repair ourselves and the world… Tikun Olam.
The Mishkan (Tabernacle) is translated as ‘a holy place for Him to dwell’. The Mishkan and all its furnishings are a microcosm of the universe and serves as a powerful conduit between G-d and the Jewish People as a vessel where we may serve G-d and receive from Him His Light… His blessing. We will barely scratch the surface with the following insights of the Menorah, the Oil and the Incense;
The Menorah has 7 branches of lights and is hammered from a single piece of gold. The single piece of gold speaks to the concept of unity. The 7 branches of lights refer to all 6 mundane days of the week that become ‘enclothed and elevated’ on the 7th day, the Shabbos. Kabbalah teaches us that there are 10 sefirot; the building blocks of all creation. There are 7 emotive experiences of the heart and when the 7 rectified experience of the heart (understanding-binah) become connected with the 3 experiences of the mind (intellect-chochma), we have an experience of knowledge (Daat) that transcends this natural world. In order for our thoughts and actions to have eternal meaning they must be on ‘the infinite path of knowledge’.
The Olive Oil, as instructed in this week’s Parshas Tetzaveh is a vehicle to elevate our thoughts and actions through its shining ‘light to the world’ as our service to Hashem will merit. The ‘clean’, most pure of olive oil comes from the first pressing. As it is with the Bikurim (the first fruits) the power contained in this purest of oils is so very powerful, it is fit only for the holy lights of menorah and not for consumption.
As we know, Chanukah is the Festival of Lights and the Chanukiah does not have the same number of branches as the Menorah’s 7, but 8 branches of light. The number 7 in gematria (Hebrew numerology) represents this, the natural world as it relates to 7 days of the week and the 7 layers of firmament aka ‘the 7 Heavens’.
Olive Oil is translated as in the Torah portion as ‘Shemen Zayit’ and is of the same root word of the number ‘8’-shmoneh. This reveals the gematria insight that the number 8 in gematria represents that which goes beyond the natural world…the supernatural …the infinite. The light that shines out from the Menorah and its Oil thus represent the spreading to the world of G-ds Infinite Light.
This concept of ‘8-ness’ (the transcending of the natrural  to the supernatural [beyond rational])is also reflected in the 8 Holy garments of the Kohan Gadol.
When lighting candles whether it be in the Mishkan, The Holy Temple, or in our homes for Shabbos, please considered the following as it applies also to relationships and interactions. It is from The Courtship of Lighting a Candle (Aura of Torah-Leib Getzel Lax);
When we light one candle from another we ought not touch the wicks together but allow the unlit wick the opportunity to gently ‘receive’ the flame from the lit candle (shamos). It is when the flame is ‘received’ by the newly lit candle (i.e. accepted- transferred), and both flames are burning independently strong that they then unite and rise high, giving birth to one united strong flame. Then, the candle has been properly lit.
The shamos ‘gives’ light to the unlit candle, and the candle to be lit ‘receives’ it (in an action referred to in Chassidut as touching -yet not– touching). The key to the unity and power of one single unified flame is that the candles become ‘both and equally givers and receivers’… and they do so simultaneously. This ‘courtship of the candles’ is a metaphor for many interactions in life. Like a husband and wife who individually -and- together form (give birth to) one nishama of unity (yichud), or like one Jew helps to ignite the light within the heart of another Jew to help him burn bright and strong. The first step is we must bring someone close with loving kindness in order the sparks within them may be ignited and that they may receive the light.
Leib Getzel (Lawrence) Lax
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