Torah Fax

Friday, February 15, 2008 - 9 Adar I, 5768

Torah Reading:  Terumah (Exodus  25:1 - 27:19)
Candle Lighting: 5:11 PM
Shabbat ends: 6:13 PM

Oil For Moses

Much has been written about the fact that Moses' name does not appear in this week’s Torah portion of Tezaveh - the only parsha since Moses' birth was recorded where his name does not appear.
In place of his name, however, he is referred to prominently by the pronoun "you," in the opening verse: "And you shall command the children of Israel that they should bring to you pure olive oil crushed for lighting, to ignite the menorah-lamp continually."

Though Moses was the one to communicate all of G‑d's commandments, his status as the commander was reinforced specifically with regard to the use of pure olive oil for the Menorah.
The fact that G‑d delegated His authority to Moses specifically for this Mitzvah needs to be understood. Why was Moses' role as commander stressed exclusively in this parsha with regard to the mitzvah of preparing olive oil for the kindling of the Menorah in the Sanctuary? Why isn't his role as the commander mentioned in earlier or later parts of the Torah? What connection is there between Moses and pure olive oil?
One explanation that can be given requires a better understanding of the purpose of lighting the Menorah in the Temple.
When one surveys the Torah's discussion of the services performed in the Sanctuary, we discover that they were dominated by offerings to G‑d. Clearly, G‑d does not need our offerings. However, the offerings served as the means through which G‑d "connected" to the world, or more precisely, the offerings served as the means through which G‑d enabled us to be connected to Him. And just as it takes the ingestion of food to keep the soul and body together, the same is said about G‑d's relationship with our world. G‑d, the soul of the entire universe, is kept within the world through the offerings in the Temple—"G‑d's food," so to speak. The offerings served the world's "nutritional needs."
In these times when we don't have the Temple, our prayers take the place of the offerings. Our daily prayers, among other "benefits," provide the world with its sustenance.
The menorah, by contrast, was not designed to be a platform for yet another offering, in this case – olive oil, but as a source of spiritual light. The Menorah was to play a complementary role with the Altar and its offerings. While the offerings served as the means to bring G‑d's energy into this world; the Menorah served to clarify and illuminate that relationship.
And here is where Moses' role is underscored. While Moses transmitted all of Torah knowledge to the Jewish people, it was his special role to illuminate the world with G‑dly knowledge. And even though it was Aaron, Moses' brother, and his descendents, who actually kindled the Menorah; the power vested within them to accomplish this mission was given to them by Moses. Indeed it is for this reason that our Parshah opens up with the command that the Jews bring their donation of olive oil for the Menorah to Moses, even though one might argue that Aaron had the more direct need for the oil.

What is it about Moses that made him the source of the power to illuminate the world through the kindling of the Menorah?
The short answer is that it is really the Torah that acts as the source of spiritual light that illuminates everything, but it is Moses that personifies the Torah.

But that itself brings up another question. If it is the Torah which is the source of light, why the need to connect with Moses? Why do we need Moses as our guide to help us access the Torah and its light?
The answer to this is that Torah itself can be perverted and its light can be dimmed. History has shown us time and again individuals who have used the Torah for their own means, as a base for their own agenda, ego, or worse. The pure olive oil discussed in our Parshah refers to the pure light of the Torah, unadulterated by unG‑dly distractions. In order to connect with that light, one must be connected to Moses whose distinction was that his personality was so transparent that anything he communicated was the unadulterated and unambiguous word of G‑d.
When we study Torah and connect to Moses we will be endowed with the ability to light up the world.
Moshiach is said to possess the soul of Moses in addition to his own unique soul. Our prayers for Moshiach includes our desire for him to inspire us to study Torah with the pure light that will illuminate G‑d's presence in the world.

Moshiach Matters


The Fifth Rebbe of Chabad, known as the Rebbe Rashab, writes in a maamar, when Mashiach comes everyone will manifestly see how the life-force that animates the organs of the body stems from Divinity. It will then be seen that every individual organ lives from the Divine life-force that is drawn into it by the fulfillment of the particular mitzvah which relates to that organ. For, as is well known, the 248 positive commandments correspond to the 248 bodily organs.

From a talk of the Rebbe on Shabbos Parshas Shemini, 5713 [1953]
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