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PARSHAT BEHA’ALOTECHA – LIGHTNING THE MENORAH

בס”ד

PARSHAT BEHA’ALOTECHA 5784

In Numbers 8:2  we read:

Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him: When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the candlestick.דַּבֵּר֙ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֵלָ֑יו בְּהַעֲלֹֽתְךָ֙ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֔ת אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה יָאִ֖ירוּ שִׁבְעַ֥ת הַנֵּרֽוֹת׃  

The Literal and Spiritual Work of Aaron

Aaron’s task was to kindle the lamps of the Menorah inside the Tabernacle. While this was a literal task, it also holds a deeper spiritual meaning. In Parshat Emor we learned that it was the duty of Aaron and the priests to educate the Jewish people, igniting their souls with Torah-based knowledge.

The Soul as the Lamp of G-d


King Solomon said in Proverbs 20:27 the following:

 The spirit of man is the lamp of the L-RD, searching all the inward parts.נֵ֣ר ד’ נִשְׁמַ֣ת אָדָ֑ם חֹ֝פֵ֗שׂ כׇּל־חַדְרֵי־בָֽטֶן׃  

King Solomon likens the human soul to the lamp of G-d. Since humans are created in the image of G-d (Tselem Elokim), when they act in accordance with this divine image, they illuminate the world with His light. This involves nurturing the intellect with proper knowledge, channeling the emotions rightly, and ensuring that actions are just and righteous. Aaron’s role was to help the Jewish people focus their souls more on G-d, thus spreading more light in the world.

The Responsibility of Everyone

Although the Jewish priests are the ones who light the Menorah, Jewish laymen are technically permitted to light it as well. But the Menorah would have to be brought outside the sanctuary, since only the priests were allowed to enter the sanctuary.

Although historically, the Menorah was never actually brought outside of the Tabernacle to be lit, this possibility within the Torah law teaches that it is not only the “Aarons”—the sanctified priesthood—who may light the human “lamps.” We can extrapolate from this that every individual can seek out those whose souls are not yet aflame for G-d and help them shine their spiritual light into the world.

This applies to Jewish people motivating and inspiring their fellow Jews, and inspiring Non-Jews as well. This applies also to Noahides: they can motivate and inspire other Non-Jews or even Jews (for example, to leave the Church and to embrace the truth of Torah). Rabbi Moshe Weiner emphasizes this responsibility of Noahides to all Non-Jews as the following:

“This commandment to Moses to compel all the nations of the world to accept the seven Noahide precepts is not incumbent merely on the Jews, but also upon all the nations of the world; anyone who has the power to compel others to act in the correct way is obligated to do so.”[1]

The Seven Lamps of the Menorah

The Menorah consists of seven lamps. Rabbi Nachman writes in Likutei Moharan 1:21 that the head of a person corresponds to the Menorah, with its “seven candles” being the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and mouth. When we dedicate these seven “candles”—by speaking truthfully, instilling fear of G-d, having faith in the sages, and avoiding evil—our heart’s flame will rise, illuminating our face with spiritual light.

Noahides can develop these qualities by adhering to the seven Noahide laws. Observing G-d’s commandments illuminates their lives with divinely oriented emotions. Submitting to G-d’s will purifies our hearts, diminishing the love for worldly pleasures and instilling the fear of G-d. As this light increases within us, Noahides can more easily inspire others and shine His light in the world.

The Process of Inspiring

When Aaron lights the lamps, he must keep the fire on the wick until it burns independently, ensuring that the flame is strong and self-sustaining. This action symbolizes a crucial lesson in the process of inspiration and education. Similarly, it is insufficient to inspire people briefly with a good story, a powerful message, or a moving piece of music. These moments of inspiration, while important, are only the beginning. We must continue to engage, motivate, and nurture individuals consistently. Our efforts should persist until the person’s soul is fully ignited, shining with its own light, and capable of continuing on its path without relying on external sources of inspiration. Only when their inner flame is self-sustaining can we be confident that our influence has had a lasting and meaningful impact. 

Appreciating Different Types of Souls

The Menorah’s seven branches teach us valuable lessons. According to the Kehot Chumash, the seven lamps symbolize the seven basic types of souls. Each type follows a unique path in fulfilling G-d’s purpose, based on one of the seven fundamental emotions.

Thus, the Menorah reminds us that, just as the different lamps together illuminate the Menorah, each Noahide, with their unique contributions, is an essential part of a larger whole. It underscores the importance of mutual respect and valuing each other’s unique roles in fulfilling G-d’s will.

From this, we learn to appreciate differences among people—whether Jews or non-Jews. For example, some might be drawn to Chassidus (the inner dimensions of Torah), others to Kiruv (outreach and bringing people closer to Torah), or to authentic Mussar (ethical and moral teachings of Torah). Recognizing and accepting each of those approaches as necessary and not mutually exclusive is crucial, as the seven lamps of the Menorah form one unified whole, aiming to make the world a better place and G-d’s home.

Learning Points

1. Responsibility for Inspiration: Everyone bears the responsibility to inspire others and help ignite their inner light – their divine image. This applies not only to Rabbis and Noahide leaders, but also to all observant Jews and Noahides.

2. Continuous Process of Inspiration: Inspiration is not merely a one-time event but an ongoing process. It requires consistent engagement and support to ensure that the inner spiritual flame of others continues to burn and grow stronger. 3. Understanding Diversity: Understanding diversity among people is crucial. There are different religious paths, beliefs, and personalities among the people of the world. Understanding the roots of this diversity allows a mentor (mashpia in Hebrew) to successfully connect with and influence different types of people in the ways that they will individually accept and respond to, in motivating them to accept their commandments from G-d. This is the approach that actually contributes to forming a collective unity and a better world.



By Angelique Sijbolts

With thanks to Dr. Michael Schulman for the imput and feedback

Sources:

[1] The Divine Code, 4e edition, Part I, topic 3:1

by Rabbi Moshe Weiner

Read more of this AskNoah.org Article


Text Mechon Mamre


Also see the blog: PROMOTING THE 7 LAWS OF NOAH: IS IT A REQUIREMENT FOR NOAHIDES?
Chassidic Insights for Parshah Behaalotecha
Rebbe Nachmans Torah, the Berkowitz Edition p. 40

Texts Mechon-Mamre.Org

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