When Aaron the high priest is commanded to light the Menorah, the Torah uses the word "beha'aloteha"--when you kindle. The literal meaning of the word is: when you raise up (the lights). A homiletical meaning may be: when you light the Menorah, you yourself will be raised, you will feel better about yourself--stronger and happier. Aaron is being told that by kindling the lights of the Menorah, he not only brings light to the sanctuary and inspiration to the public: he actually improves himself.
Angel for Shabbat
"...and all the congregation drew near and stood before the Lord. And Moses said: This is the thing which the Lord commanded you to do, that there may appear unto you the glory of the Lord." (Vayikra 9:5-6)
Moses instructed the priests and the entire people of Israel concerning the procedures of dedicating the Mishkan, the sanctuary of the Lord. If they followed the commandments, they would experience the glory of the Lord. They would feel God's presence and would reach great spiritual heights.
As we prepare to celebrate Yom Ha-Atsmaut next Tuesday night and Wednesday, we rejoice at the wonderful successes of the State of Israel. Our joy, though, is dampened by the ongoing perfidious slanders and threats lodged against Israel and the Jewish People from so many different quarters. It is vital that we stay focused on the remarkable renaissance of the Jews as manifested in the re-establishment of a sovereign Jewish State after so many centuries of exile. We thank the Almighty for having granted us the privilege of living at this special time in Jewish history.
"And you shall not profane My holy name, and I shall be hallowed among the children of Israel; I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord" (Vayikra 22:32-3)
"And you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." (Vayikra 25:10)
"And I have broken the bars of your yoke, and made you to go upright." (Vayikra 26:13)
In describing the qualities of the men and women who aided in the construction of the Mishkan, the Torah repeatedly refers to them as "hakhmat lev", wise of heart. This may mean that they were particularly skillful, or creative, or excellent at following instructions. But the phrase implies a special quality that combines wisdom and emotion. These artists were technically proficient, but they also brought a genuine enthusiasm to their work. This combination of skill and piety led to the creation of the sacred space of the Mishkan.
Each good person can do something positive, however humble it may seem. Each person can take a stand, make a statement, take an action, make a contribution. We cannot assume that evil will disappear on its own. It must be confronted by heroes of the spirit in every generation.
This week's Torah portion begins with God commanding Moses : "And these are the ordinances that you shall set before them." Rashi comments that God instructed Moses not to teach the Israelites by rote, but to explain the reasons for the laws. If the people had the opportunity to study the reasons behind the laws, they would more likely internalize and fulfill them.