Torah Fax
Friday, June 16, 2006 - 20 Sivan, 5766

 
Torah Reading  Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1 - 12:16)
Candle Lighting Time:  8:11 PM
Shabbat Ends: 9:21 PM
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 2
 
Lights Out?
 
In this week's Parshah, when the Torah discusses the command for Aaron to light the Menorah, it adds an interesting detail. The Torah commands that the Menorah’s six flames, three on each side of the Menorah’s central flame, should each face the center flame. Immediately after this instruction is recorded, the Torah continues: "And Aaron did so, as G‑d commanded Moses." Rashi explains: "This tells us Aaron's praise that he did not alter [G‑d's command]."
 
This comment has prompted many to ask the obvious question: How could it be that Aaron would even harbor a desire to change the way he was instructed to light the Menorah? Why would he be praised that he was faithful to G‑d's instructions directed toward him?
 
Furthermore, why does the Torah stress the fact that Aaron heeded G‑d's command specifically with regard to this detail of the Menorah lighting? What is it about the kindling all of the six branches towards the central branch of the Menorah that is so significant? And what is the lesson for us?
 
Rashi explains that by directing the lights towards the center, it refuted the claim that G‑d needed the light to illuminate His Temple. If one wanted to increase the light in an area one would normally try to get the flames to be extended outward.
But why would Aaron find it difficult to do something that was designed to show that G‑d did not need the light for illumination? To answer this question, another question must first be resolved: How could Rashi say that there was a need to dispel the notion that G‑d needed the light? Who, in his right mind, would have thought that G‑d needed the light for Himself? 
 
It may be suggested that by requiring the flames to be directed towards the center of the Menorah, G‑d was responding to a rather sophisticated belief that some might have entertained: that the Menorah was indeed intended to illuminate G‑d's Sanctuary. They could have reasoned that since the Mishkan was a physical structure subject to the laws of physics, it required physical illumination. And while G‑d does not need physical illumination for Himself, it might have been argued that He would need it for the physical Sanctuary.
 
True, G‑d is infinite and beyond the constraints of the physical world, but perhaps He is subject to the limitations of nature when His presence is introduced into the corporeal world. Maybe G‑d, in this erroneous view, "respects" the parameters of nature, and will not allow the supernatural to intervene and override it.
 
The Torah therefore states that Aaron did not deviate from G‑d's instructions even when logic may have dictated otherwise; that when dealing with a sanctuary within the physical world, the natural order ought to be considered by maximizing the illumination.
 
Another argument could have been advanced by Aaron in favor of not following G‑d's instruction. If the illumination was not as strong, wouldn't a dark Sanctuary detract from the honor that we would wish to give the Sanctuary? After all, in out tradition, lighting candles is our way of according honor to a place and time, such as the Shabbat candles or candles lit in the synagogue.
 
Aaron could thus have reasoned that since Moses' instruction to him flew against logic and would even prove to be disrespectful towards G‑d's Sanctuary, it was his obligation to "defend" G‑d's honor by extending the flames outward so that there would be more light in the Mishkan. The Torah therefore declares that Aaron did not stray one iota from the instruction he received though Moses.
 
Two lessons emerge from this story. First: the importance of not allowing our own logic to weigh in against G‑d's commandments to us through Moses. To be sure, the Torah wants us to employ logic and common sense to Judaism, but it does not have "veto" power to override G‑d's express commandments.
 
Second: that the notion that G‑d Himself is "captive" so to speak to the norms of nature, and cannot or will not override them is erroneous. And while it is true that G‑d respects nature, because He is its Creator, He nevertheless has "reserved" the right to override it.
 
In a similar vein, there are those who cannot fathom what it means that we are on the very threshold of the Messianic Age. How, they say, can the world change overnight? After all, we are living in a natural order. And while they believe in a Supernatural G‑d, they cannot grasp how the two worlds, the supernatural can enter into the natural in a seamless unity, where nature remains nature, yet we are aware of a supernatural presence.
 
By insisting that the Sanctuary in the desert follow very defined dimensions and criteria (the natural), it housed a G‑d who transcended nature, and one of those areas where this fusion was expressed, was in the lighting of the Menorah: The fire was directed inward, and yet illuminated the entire Sanctuary, with light left over to illuminate the entire world.
 
With the imminent coming of Moshiach we will soon experience this synthesis, and, of course, we will resume the daily ritual of lighting a Menorah that spreads its infinite light in all directions.
       
Moshiach Matters
An essential component in bringing about the final Redemption is Simchah, joy. It is noteworthy that the root letters of simchah are Shin, Mem and Ches - the very same letters that make up the root of the word Moshiach. (The Rebbe, Hisvaduyos, 5748, pg. 627)(Sefer Ma'amarim Melukat of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue. For more info, visit www.moshiach.com
 
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