Sermon for Behaaloscha
— From the Rebbe’s Torah —
Humor to begin with:
I accidentally joined a pro-secession organization.
When I tried to leave, I was elected as their chairman.
We’re all part of a pro-unity religion. And that is the message of the Menorah, which is discussed in our parshah.
But before we get to that, there’s something that needs clarification:
This week’s parshah begins with discussing the lighting of the menorah, in the holy temple — the Beis Hamikdash.
The verse states, “This was the work of the menorah: it was a hammered work of gold; it was hammered from its base to its flower.”
The problem is that the details of the menorah’s construction were already enumerated in another parshah — parshas Terumah, and it already discussed its creation in parshas Vayakhel. Here, the Torah discusses the menorah’s lighting. So why does the Torah say: “This is the work of the menorah” — that would seem to be an introductory statement to a discussion of all the menorah’s details…
Well, when we look a little deeper, we will see that actually, the discussion of the menorah’s lighting actually includes some very central tenets of the menorah’s ideas, without which, “The work of the menorah” is not complete.
[The menorah in the temple was not there to give light. G-d is the source of light — he does not need light.
The menorah symbolized G-d’s light flowing outward from the Beis Hamikdash — the place where he most revealed, (through the miracles that occurred there) — to the entire world.
The fact that the goal of the menorah was not to give light to its immediate vicinity was expressed in the fact that all the lights of the menorah faced the center, erect branch.
If the menorah was for light in the temple, then the wicks would have been tilted to all four corners. But they were not. When the Torah discusses the lighting of the menorah in our parshah, it states: “The seven lamps shine toward the central shaft of the Candelabrum.”
It was clear that the menorah was for spreading light unto the world.
This is a central tenet of the menorah discussed here, in our parshah.]
[Another idea expressed by all the lamps tilting toward the center, is connected to] a central tenet of the menorah’s creation: It had to be carved out of a single piece of gold. Why?
The seven branches of the menorah symbolize the seven emotional attributes the kabbalah tells us we all possess: Chesed — Kindness, Gevurah — Severity, Tiferet — Beauty, Netzach — Victory, Hod — Splendor, Yesod — Connection, and Malchus — Rulership.
Although we all possess each of these seven character traits, each person has one dominant attribute, which encoumpases the way one goes about, expericanes and subconsciously expresses all ones other attributes.
The seven branches of the menorah symbolize seven different types of souls. Seven different types of Jews. Seven different ways of experiencing and celebrating Judaism. Seven different ways of serving G-d.
And, we cannot do without all the seven branches.
This reminds me of a story of two great chassidim with different manners, who showed what it means to see the value in others:
Rabbi Hillel Paritcher, was a great chossid who lived in the late 18th to early 19th century. He was a great mind, an immense Torah scholar, and served G-d passionately. It was said that he was “half a tzaddik.”
During a farbrengen he once said that he envied a simple chossid, a builder by profession, who served G-d with simplicity. So envious was he that upon describing his jealousy, he burst into tears.
Another great chossid of that era, Rabbi Aizik of Homil piped up and said: “I am jealous of you, Rabbi Hillel. You are an intellectual and very knowledgeable, and yet, you are jealous of the simplicity of Sholom Yosef the builder.”
These people knew the quality and value of each other, and every person.
But the goal of all these seven methods are all the same — to serve G-d.
Thus, all seven branches of the menorah must be carved from only one piece of gold. Showing that all seven are all from the same source — in G-d, and are all in one service.
But once the menorah is carved, the uninformed observer will not necessarily realize that all the branches were carved from one. Therefore, all the branches face the center stem — which is clearly seen as fashioned from one piece, to indicate that the entire menorah is like the center — all fashioned from one piece of gold.
This shows that even after the branches have been carved out, and the individuality of each is seen — still, we are all accomplishing something together.
We must always remember that we are part of something larger.
What we do is good for us, and is our own, individual purpose in life.
But, we must be uplifted to remember that what we do is as part of the entire Jewish nation.
And when we realize that we are all in this together, working toward the same goal, self-satisfaction isn’t always the barometer of what we should be doing. What’s important is that the goal we are all working toward be accomplished.
A great Chossid, R. Michoel Bliner would say:
“If there was only one esrog in the world, and only one Jew would be able to use it, and it was given to me, I would give it away to another Jew”. He would explain that Hashem’s will would be fulfilled no less through a different Jew doing the mitzvah, and he would not be that selfish to be the only one to fulfill the mitzvah, in order to accumulate olam haba for himself.
(Humor about self-centered boss:
Talking about not being self-centered, here’s a joke:
My boss parks his brand new Ferrari next to my car. I told him: “Nice Ferrari boss!”
He responded: “Well, if you work hard, set goals and achieve them and always give 110%, then I probably can get a Lamborghini next year.”)
It is important to remember the larger implications and the ultimate purpose of everything we do — to perfect the world and usher in the perfect and holy times of Moshiach.
When we realize that we’re all this together, not only will we be focused on our shared goal, and getting it accomplished; we will also be infused with the inspiration of seeing the broader picture and the great goal our small actions achieve.
This is why the Torah calls what is described in our parsha “the work of the menorah” — for indeed, it is. The seven branches facing the center stem, which is clearly carved from one piece, brings out its point.
May we fulfil our goal very soon.
* * *
לעילוי נשמת מרת מרים בת בן ציון ע"ה
נפטרה י"ג טבת השתא
ובעלה ר' קלמן הירש בן ר' יחיאל פסח הלוי ע"ה
נפטר ט' תשרי תש"ע
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Written by: Eli Baron, Crown Heights