In this parashah, Aaron is commanded to kindle the lights of the Menorah, but a most unusual expression is used in this connection. “Beha’alotcha” literally means “when you elevate,” rather than “l’hadlik,” the word used in connection to kindling the Shabbos and festival lights.
There is a profound teaching therein. The Menorah is symbolic of the Torah and we must at all times bear in mind that studying the Torah is not just undertaking another study; observing the mitzvos is not just another lifestyle, but it is the very essence of our lives, the very fiber of our beings, through which we are elevated and realize our purpose in life. Therefore, the word that is used is “elevating” rather than “kindling.”
There is yet another teaching found in the Menorah. The Book of Proverbs states, “The soul of man is a candle of God.” Buried deep in the crevices of our neshamos is the light of God – a love of Torah and mitzvos. We need only kindle it. So, if we seek elevation, meaning, and purpose in life, we need only kindle the light of Torah in our souls. It’s as easy as that.
A JEWISH LITMUS TEST: WHEN DO YOU FEEL DEPRIVED?
The mitzvah of kindling the Menorah was given to Aaron after the princes of the tribes brought their contributions for the dedication of the Tabernacle. The Midrash teaches us that Aaron was distressed that the leaders representing the tribes were called upon to offer gifts, while he and his tribe were not invited to do so.
This should give us all pause. In our world, very few people would feel deprived or distressed if they were exempt from making a contribution. They would be more than happy to be overlooked when it comes to solicitations. When honor is dispensed, however, when gifts are given, then, of course, it’s a different matter. Let’s ask ourselves: When do we feel deprived?
Aaron taught us proper priorities. To him, it was not what he possessed that counted, but what he was able to give away. Aaron felt deprived when he was not called upon to give. His message transcends the centuries and speaks to us, loud and clear. It’s not what we have, but what we give that is significant. Aaron gave with a full, loving heart and because of that, the Almighty assured him that his gift – the kindling of the Menorah – would be eternal.