In this week’s parsha (Numbers 8:1), Aaron is commanded to kindle the lights of the menorah, but a most unusual word is used in this connection–“behaaloscha” which, literally translated means “when you elevate” rather than “K’sheh tadlik”–“When you light.”
There is a profound teaching therein. The menorah is symbolic of the Torah, and we must at all times bear in mind that studying the Torah is not just undertaking another study; observing the mitzvot is not just another life style, but it is the very essence of our lives, the very fiber of our being through which we are elevated and realize our purpose in life. Therefore, the words that is used is “elevating” rather than “lighting”. Every aspect of the service is significant. When the Kohen lights the menorah, he must do so standing on a step although the menorah was only fifty four inches in height and it would have been a simple matter to kindle the light without standing on a step-stool. But here again, is a symbolic teaching–we cannot just open the books and start studying.
Rather, we must prepare ourselves emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for the awesome task of immersing ourselves in G-d’s Book. Each and every time we commence our studies, we must strive to view ourselves as we stood at Mt. Sinai, when we declared “Na’aseh v’nishma”–“We will fulfill the Torah–study and plumb its infinite wisdom. If we adopt such as attitude, we will discover that absolutely nothing can limit our spiritual growth, and we will truly experience spiritual elevation.
Following the instructions regarding the commandment of the menorah, the passage goes on to say, “Vayas Kein Aharon”–“And Aaron did thus…” (Numbers 8:30)
Rashi, the great commentator states that this verse is in praise of Aaron who fulfilled the command exactly as instructed. This is difficult to understand, for even a lesser person than Aaron wouldn’t have deviated from G-d’s command, how much more so Aaron.
But once again the Torah teaches us an important lesson. It is easy to be enthusiastic when we undertake a new project, but to keep that enthusiasm going when the novelty wears off is a real test of character. We all have visions when facing new challenges. We go under the chuppah certain that we will be the best husbands and wives. When we become parents, we are certain that we will be the best mothers and fathers, but very soon, our dreams are shattered, our enthusiasm fades, and we revert back to our old ways. Aaron however, was different. Throughout his thirty-nine years of service, he retained his enthusiasm as on the day when he first received the commandments. Indeed, “Aaron did thus…”
There is yet another teaching to the menorah. “The soul of man is a candle of G-d (Proverbs). Buried deep in the crevices of our neshamas is the light of G-d–a love of Torah. We need only kindle it. So if we seek meaning and purpose in life, elevation and spirituality, we need only kindle the light of Torah in our souls. It’s as easy as that.
By: Rabbi Osher Jungreis