July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

In this week’s Torah portion, Behaalotecha, the parsha opens with a mission that is not only about lighting, but about enlightening too. Aharon HaKohen receives a command: to light the Menorah. The Torah describes Aharon’s response to this call to action in a few words: “And he did so.” Rashi’s comment highlights the significance of these simple words: “This is in praise of Aharon, that he did not deviate (from God’s command).” Rashi also comments: “He is required to kindle the lamp until the flame rises on its own.” Moreover, the Kohen Gadol cannot continue to the next lamp until the first lamp is properly lit.

What Aharon does, cannot be taken for granted and is deserving of praise. Aharon neither adds to God’s command, nor takes anything away from it. He does not innovate and does not try an alternative approach. He neither enhances nor diminishes. “And he did so.” With simplicity, with innocence, with devotion, with obedience. Recall that the first sin in the Garden of Eden, that of eating from the forbidden fruit, occurred because of an inability to be exact, to obey the clear instructions that were given.

Chani Weinrot, of blessed memory, expressed her understanding of the obligation of the lamplighter as follows: He has to work slowly, with patience, to light one lamp after the next, but not run ahead to the next lamp until the previous mission of lighting is complete. He does not jump between two different tasks at once.

In an era in which technology brings about more distractions all the time, constantly interrupting our focus, the lighting of the Menorah teaches us to move ahead one step at a time, with moderation, concentration, and rapt attention to the immediate task at hand. It also shows us that our regular routines might actually be the biggest innovation. Isn’t the consistent observance of a mitzvah, after all, the truest spiritual challenge? And how many such missions await us in life, simply to be fulfilled in the proper way?

Another lesson our commentators explain is that when God tells Moshe to tell Aharon: “When you light the lamps…,” we are meant to see this as a mission for all of us, to light a fire in ourselves and others that will lead to sustained, concentrated, consistent enthusiasm for meaningful activity throughout our lives.


Sivan Rahav-Meir is the World Mizrachi Scholar-in-Residence and an Israeli journalist and lecturer. She is a member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau (www.mizrachi.org/speakers).

 Translated by Yehoshua Siskin.

The RZA-Mizrachi is a broad Religious Zionist organization without a particular political affiliation.

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