Torah Fax    

Friday - Shabbat, February 11 - 12 Parshat Tetzaveh 

Torah Reading: Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 - 30:10)
Candle Lighting  5:07 PM
Shabbat ends 6:09 PM
 

The Inspired Heart? 

The Discrepancy

This week’s parsha of Tetzaveh begins with the words: “And you shall command the children of Israel that they should bring to you clear olive oil, crushed for lighting, to ignite the lamp continually.”

This commandment comes on the heels of the preceding parsha which discussed the various contributions of the Jewish people for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary in the desert, and the vessels within it: the Ark, Table, Altar, and Menorah.

However there is a discrepancy in these two appeals for contributions: 

In last week’s parsha the Torah stated: “Take My offering from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity.” The Zohar states that when the Torah states “From every person whose heart inspires him...” it includes even the Eirev Rav (the mixed multitude of nations that were inspired, for ulterior motives, to join the Jewish people at the time of the Exodus.)

However, commentators point out that in contrast to last week’s parsha, this week’s parsha specifies that the contribution of the olive oil must come from “the children of Israel.” Absent is the statement that it should come from every person who is inspired to contribute as it did with regard to the Mishkan and all of its vessels. Why is the olive oil different? 

To answer this question we must first preface the answer to a second question: Why did they have to bring the olive oil to Moses? After all, Moses was not the one to do the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan. They should have been required to bring it to Aaron who was charged with this responsibility of lighting the Menorah as mentioned explicitly in this parsha?

Lighting Up the Souls with Pure Oil

The answer to this question is that lighting the Menorah is more than a ritual. It was even more than a means to generate greater spiritual light for the world. The lighting of the menorah was about lighting up the souls of the Jewish people. To ensure that the light would be untainted by any outside influence it had to be pure olive oil not just in the chemical sense of purity. In order for this olive oil—with which the soul/flame of every Jew would be kindled—to be pure, it had to be brought to Moses. Only Moses’ pure and transparent soul had the capacity to guarantee that the oil would be pure in the spiritual and ultimate sense of the word.

Thus, Moses could not have asked for the Eirev Rav to contribute the olive oil, because Moses knew of their lack of sincerity. He also knew that they were the instigators of the golden calf’s construction (which according to many opinions preceded the commandment to contribute to the Mishkan). Moses could not afford to allow their participation in the donation of the olive oil because that would have sullied its pristine purity.

Now a question can be raised in the opposite direction. Why did Moses take theidonations of the Eirev Rav for the Mishkan? If their involvement would taint the purity of the oil, could we not argue that it would also have compromised the integrity of the Mishkan.

The Lowlier the Better 

To answer this question we must try to understand the difference between the respective objectives of the Mishkan with its vessels on the one hand and the olive oil on the other.

The Mishkan was a physical structure designed to be the instrument through which G‑d chooses to reveal His presence in our world. The fact that our physical world is not a pure and holy place is not a contradiction to the objective of the Mishkan. On the contrary, the very purpose of the Mishkan was to bring holiness precisely into the parameters of the physical world with all of its deficiencies. One does not need to make the spiritual realms holy; the purpose of building the Mishkan—and the subsequent Beit Hamikdash that was built in Jerusalem—was to make the physical and material world holy.

The Mishkan was actually the prototype of G‑d’s image and vision for our world. G‑d’s objective in creating the world is to acquire a “dwelling place” for Himself in the lowliest aspects of existence, in our material, and often, spiritually resistant world. The lowliness of the world is not a negation of G‑d’s plan. On the contrary, it is an affirmation of it. Transforming the lowliest aspects of existence into a snctuary for G‑d is indeed what life is all about; our very raison d’etre.

Thus, when G‑d asked for contributions for the construction of the Mishkan, the Eirav Rv’s tainted past would not only not detract from the mission statement of the Mishkan, it would validate it. They were precisely the type of people for whom the Mishkan was most suited. And if one can lift up the people on the bottom rung of the spiritual ladder, we can surely uplift everyone else. The only caveat was that the donations to the Mishkan could not be made with negative feelings; they had to do it with and “inspired heart.” The fact that the Eirev Rav had “skeletons in their closet” was in no way an impediment to their role in contributing to the Mishkan. 

When, however, the oil had to be prepared to light up the souls of the Jewish people, that was an entirely different story. It had to be the purist olive oil in every sense of the word. The physical purity that was required was but a physical manifestation of its spiritual purity. The soul needs to be nurtured and its flame ignited in ways that do not eclipse its light or compromise its brightness for that defeats the very idea of what a soul is all about. The Eirav Rav’s contribution of the oil—even with their best intentions—would have undermined the very character of the lighting of the souls of the Jewish people, exemplified through the Menorah with purist of olive oil.

Once the Menorah is lit with the highest level of olive oil—under the direction and filter of Moses—it will ignite the spark of the souls of the Jewish people and once that light is shining brightly it will eventually also reach and ignite the souls of the Eirav Rav 

Oil for the Menorah and Oil for the Flour Offerings

This distinction will also shed light (pun intended) on a Chanukah question. We know that the miracle of Chanukah was the discovery of an uncontaminated cruse of oil that was able to last for eight nights. Although under the dire circumstances that existed after the Maccabee’s victory over the Greek Syrians, it would have been halachically permitted to use impure olive oil in the Menorah, the miracle of Chanukah ensured that they could instead use absolutely pure oil. 

The question has been raised concerning the oil that is needed for the various flour offerings that were brought in the Temple. Why were they able to use the contaminated oil for the offerings and not for the menorah? Why was there no need for a miracle to ensure that the offerings would also be brought with pure olive oil?

We can now understand that when it comes to offering of ourselves to G‑d, He does not mind that it is brought from our lowest aspects. Indeed, sometimes the lower the offering the more G‑d’s objective of making a Sanctuary for Himself in the lowest of realms is realized. Not so when lighting the Menorah that represents the souls of all the Jewish people. For that purpose G‑d performed the great miracle of Chanukah so that their souls would be capable of revealing its purist state. 

Two Pronged Mission

The lesson for us is that we—as we stand on the threshold of the final redemption through Moshiach—are also charged with a two pronged mission:

On the one hand, as we prepare to enter into the world of Redemption it is our responsibility to reach out to every Jew no matter how distant a person might feel they are from the Torah. The universal Sanctuary that will be our world in the days of Moshiach is being built right now with the efforts of every single mitzvah of every single Jew. Moreover, the ultimate Mishkan needs even so-called “lowly” contributions even more than those of the more lofty souls. G‑d desires to dwell especially within the lowest of realms.

However, as we prepare our souls for the coming of Moshiach at which time we will see G‑d’s glory without any screen or filter, it is our task to come before Him with a pure soul. By taking our “olive oil” and bringing it to Moshiach, meaning, by following in his pure and holy ways that are untainted by the exile mindset, we are guaranteed that our souls will be purified.   

Moshiach Matters  

No part of the Sanctuary in the desert (mishkan) was thrown away. Five hundred years after the Sanctuary was built in the desert, King Solomon built the Holy Temple. Vessels and parts of the Sanctuary that could be used in the Holy Temple were used. The beams, poles, and silver sockets were set aside, to be used in the days of Moshiach, when G‑d's presence will once again rest upon them.
(Kil Yakar)

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