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Parshat Pekudei (10/03/10)  Machon MeirMachon Meir  ENGLISH  :MeirTV English

Rabbi Netanel Frankenthal


For over 35 years, Machon Meir has become known throughout Israel as the place to get a deeper understanding what it truly means to be a member of the Jewish people. It has also become the landing point for many new immigrants from all over the world because of the institute’s encouragement of living in the Land of Israel. Machon Meir has also created a strategy to distribute Torah worldwide through their media channel, Arutz Meir. Since it began, Arutz Meir has debuted a range of television series and archived over 25,000 classes which are constantly being updated and viewed daily throughout the world in 5 different languages. With a variety of topics and discussions led by renowned Jewish scholars, our viewers will surely find a class that will create sparks of inspiration. Whether you are looking to connect to your Jewish heritage or you are simply seeking out answers, we exist to imbue the words of Torah and engage our viewers with real and meaningful

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Rabbi Yona levin


“За чашкой чая”
Беседа в тёплой, неформальной обстановке о том,
как современный интеллигентный слушатель воспринимает нашу традицию.
В передаче мы попробуем получить ответы на непростые вопросы,
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Присоединяйтесь, приходите к нам на чашечку чая.
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Por más de 35 años, Machon Meir ha dado a conocer a través de Israel como el lugar para obtener una comprensión más profunda lo que realmente significa ser un miembro del pueblo judío. También se ha convertido en el punto de aterrizaje para muchos nuevos inmigrantes de todas partes del mundo, porque de aliento de la vida en la Tierra de Israel del instituto. Majón Meir también ha creado una estrategia para distribuir la Torá en todo el mundo a través de su canal de medios, Arutz Meir. Desde sus inicios, Arutz Meir ha estrenado una serie de series de televisión y archivado más de 25.000 clases que constantemente se están actualizando y ver todos los días en todo el mundo en 5 idiomas diferentes. Con una variedad de temas y discusiones dirigidas por renombrados eruditos judíos, nuestros televidentes seguramente encontrará una clase que va a crear chispas de inspiración.

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הרב יואב מלכא

 

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ETHICS OF OUR FATHERS: (Chapter 1 )

B”H

Sivan 7, 5774 * June 5, 2014

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E T H I C S   O F   O U R   F A T H E R S
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Minding the Child: The Soul of a Metaphor
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Assume a Master for yourself

– Ethics of our Fathers, 1:6

*       *       *

“And they believed in G-d and in Moses His servant” (Exodus 14:31).

What was the nature of Israel’s relationship to Moses? Moses, after all, is a human being. And yet, the Torah uses the very same word to connote Israel’s belief in him and in the Almighty (“they believed in G-d and in Moses”). Indeed, the Midrash derives from this that “One who believes in Moses, believes in the Almighty; one who does not believe in Moses, does not believe in the Almighty(!)”

The Talmud goes even further, applying the same to the sages and Torah authorities of all generations. On the verse, “To love the L-rd your G-d and to cleave to Him,” it states: “Is it then possible to cleave to the Divine…? But whoever attaches himself to a Torah scholar, the Torah considers it as if he had attached himself to G-d….”

The Awareness Factor

“So says G-d: My firstborn child, Israel” (Exodus 4:22).

In what way is G-d our “father”? There are, of course, the obvious parallels. G-d creates us and provides us with sustenance and direction. He loves us with the boundless, all-forgiving love of a father.

Chassidic teaching delves further into the metaphor. It examines the biological and psychological dynamics of the father-child model, and employs them to better understand our relationship to each other and to our Father in Heaven.

A microscopic bit of matter, originating in the father’s body, triggers the generation of a life. In the mother’s womb, a single cell develops into a brain, heart, eyes, ears, arms, legs, toenails; soon it emerges into the world to function as a thinking, feeling and achieving human being.

Physically, what began in the father’s body and psyche is now a separate, distinct and (eventually) independent individual. Yet there is a good reason we say, “Like father like son.” On a deeper level, the child remains inseparable from his begetter.

In the words of the Talmud, “A son is a limb of his father.” At the very heart of his consciousness lies an inescapable truth: he is his father’s child, an extension of his being, a projection of his personality. In body, they have become two distinct entities; in essence they are one.

One may argue: perhaps in the child’s mind, the seat of his identity, the singularity of parent and offspring lives on. Here, the child’s relationship with his father is sensed, here resides the recognition of their intrinsic oneness. But the brain is only one of the child’s many organs and limbs. The rest of him may indeed stem from its ancestral source, but is now a wholly separate entity.

Obviously, this is not the case – any more than it would be correct to say that the eyes alone see or that “just” the mouth speaks. The component parts of the human being comprise a single, integrated whole; it is the person who sees, the person who speaks, the person who is aware. The toenail of the child, by virtue of its physical and neurological interconnection with the brain, is no less one with the father than is the brain itself, the organ which facilitates this oneness.

But what if the toenail, or any other limb of the body, severs its connection with the mind? This would cut it off from its own center of vitality and consciousness, and, as a result, also from its parental origins. In other words, the unity of all the child’s limbs and organs with the father’s essence is dependent upon their maintaining their connection with their own mind, a connection that imbues them all with the awareness of this unity.

The Body Israel

My firstborn child, Israel.

Israel, too, is comprised of many “organs” and “limbs.”

In each generation, great sages devoted their lives to assimilate the Divine essence of Torah. These are the mind of Israel, whose entire being is permeated with the awareness of G-d’s truth. Israel also has a heart, individuals whose lives exemplify compassion and piety, and hands, its great builders and achievers. Each and every individual, from the “Moses of the generation” to the “ordinary” foot soldier, forms an integral part of the body of G-d’s firstborn – each is equally “the limb of the father.”

But, as with the physical father-child relationship, it is the mind of the child that cements his bond with his father. As long as the many organs and limbs of his body remain a single integrated whole, they are all equally the father’s child. But it is only by virtue of their connection to their mind that they possess the awareness which makes their physically “detached” selves one with their source.

The same applies to the “body” that is Israel: it is our life- bond with our “mind” that both integrates us as unified whole and facilitates our connection to our Creator and Source. True, a Jew cannot ever sever his bond with his G-d any more than even the lowliest “toenail” of the child’s body can “choose” to go off on its own and undo its relationship with its father; but while we cannot change what we are, we can determine to what extent our identity as G-d’s child will be expressed in our daily life.

We can chose, G-d forbid, to disassociate ourselves from the leaders that G-d has implanted in our midst, thus banishing our relationship with Him to the subconscious cellar of our soul. Or, we can intensify our bond to the minds of Israel, thereby making our bond with the Almighty a tangible and vibrant reality.

*     *     *

Jack Of All Trades

Said Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch:

There are those who question the need of a mentor to guide them through life. They claim that each and every individual can forge his own relationship with G-d unaided. They argue that since the Jewish faith rejects the concept of an “intermediary” between man and G-d, they have no use for mentor or master.

They fail to understand that the entire Jewish people are a single entity, that every individual soul is, in truth, but a limb or organ of the general soul of Israel. Just as each limb and organ of the human body has its function at which it excels, so, too, every soul has its role and mission, as well as its limitations: the “loftiest” of souls is dependent upon the “lowliest” for the attainment of the single, unified goal. And were any limb to strike out on its own, detaching itself from the “head” which provides the entire body with vitality and direction – the results are self-understood.

When someone adapts the attitude that he can do it all on his own, he reminds me of the story told about the goy and the tefillin. Once, a Jew noticed a pair of tefillin in the house of a gentile peasant. Upon seeing a holy object in such a place, he began to inquire about the tefillin, wishing to purchase them from the goy. The peasant, who had looted the tefillin at a recent pogrom, grew agitated and defensive. “What do you mean, where did I get them?” he blurted out, “Why, I made them myself! I myself am a shoemaker!”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Introductory reading to Ethics of the Fathers:

All Israel has a share in the World to Come, as is stated: “And your people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever. They are the shoot of My planting, the work of My hands, in which I take pride.” (Sanhedrin, 11:1)

Chapter One

1. Moses received the Torah from [G-d at] Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgment. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah.

2. Shimon the Righteous was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.

3. Antignos of Socho received the tradition from Shimon the Righteous. He would say: Do not be as slaves, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as slaves who serve their master not for the sake of reward. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you.

4. Yossei the son of Yoezer of Tzreidah, and Yossei the son of Yochanan of Jerusalem, received the tradition from them. Yossei the son of Yoezer of Tzreidah would say: Let your home be a meeting place for the sages; dust yourself in the soil of their feet, and drink thirstily of their words.

5. Yossei the son of Yochanan of Jerusalem would say: Let your home be wide open, and let the poor be members of your household. And do not engage in excessive conversation with a woman. This is said even regarding one’s own wife—how much more so regarding the wife of another. Hence, the sages said: One who excessively converses with a woman causes evil to himself, neglects the study of Torah, and, in the end, inherits purgatory.

6. Joshua the son of Perachia and Nitai the Arbelite received from them. Joshua the son of Perachia would say: Assume for yourself a master, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every man to the side of merit.

7. Nitai the Arbelite would say: Distance yourself from a bad neighbor, do not cleave to a wicked person, and do not abandon belief in retribution.

8. Judah the son of Tabbai and Shimon the son of Shotach received from them. Judah the son of Tabbai would say: When sitting in judgement, do not act as a counselor-at-law. When the litigants stand before you, consider them both guilty; and when they leave your courtroom, having accepted the judgement, regard them as equally righteous.

9. Shimon the son of Shotach would say: Increasingly cross-examine the witnesses. Be careful with your words, lest they learn from them how to lie.

10. Shmaayah and Avtalyon received from them. Shmaayah would say: Love work, loath mastery, and avoid intimacy with the government.

11. Avtalyon would say: Scholars, be careful with your words. For you may be exiled to a place inhabited by evil elements [who will distort your words to suit their negative purposes]. The disciples who come after you will then drink of these evil waters and be destroyed, and the Name of Heaven will be desecrated.

12. Hillel and Shammai received from them. Hillel would say: Be of the disciples of Aaron—a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures and draws them close to Torah.

13. He would also say: One who advances his name, destroys his name. One who does not increase, diminishes. One who does not learn is deserving of death. And one who make personal use of the crown of Torah shall perish.

14. He would also say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

15. Shammai would say: Make your Torah study a permanent fixture of your life. Say little and do much. And receive every man with a pleasant countenance.

16. Rabban Gamliel would say: Assume for yourself a master; stay away from doubt; and do not accustom yourself to tithe by estimation.

17. His son, Shimon, would say: All my life I have been raised among the wise, and I have found nothing better for the body than silence. The essential thing is not study, but deed. And one who speaks excessively brings on sin.

18. Rabbi Shimon the son of Gamliel would say: On three things the world endures: law, truth and peace. As is stated, “Truth, and a judgement of peace, you should administer at your [city] gates.”

Studied at the conclusion of each lesson of the Ethics:

Rabbi Chananiah the son of Akashiah would say: G-d desired to merit the people of Israel; therefore, He gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundance. As is stated, “G-d desired, for sake of his righteousness, that Torah be magnified and made glorious.” (Makot, 3:16)

TORAH STUDIES: Parshat Behaalotecha

 

Behaalotcha
Sivan 7, 5774 · June 5, 2014

 

This Sidra opens with the command to Aaron to light the lamps of the Menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum that stood in the Sanctuary. The symbolism of the Menorah and the act of lighting, is the theme of the Sicha, together with the example which Aaron’s service represents.

1. Aaron’s Love

Aaron, whose duties as the High Priest are described in this week’s Sidra, was known for his love towards every creature. Hillel said of him, in Pirkei Avot,1 “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow-creatures and drawing them near to the Torah.”

What was the feature of his way of life that stands as a supreme example of spreading the spiritual light of Torah? It was that he did not wait for those who stood in darkness to come within the circle of light, but that he went out to them. He went, in Hillel’s words, to his “fellow creatures,” a word including those who had no other merit than that they too, were G-d’s creations.2 But nonetheless he “drew them near to the Torah” rather than drawing the Torah near to them. He did not simplify or compromise its demands to bring it down to their level. He did not lower the Torah; he raised men.

2. Lighting the Lamps

This facet of Aaron’s life is suggested in this Sidra, which opens with the command, “When you light (literally, ‘raise up’) the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the candlestick.”3

The lamps of the Menorah of the Sanctuary are a symbol of the Jewish soul—“The lamp of the L-rd is the soul of man.”4 And the seven lamps, the branches of the Menorah, are the seven kinds of Jewish soul.5 Aaron’s task was to raise up every soul, to bring out the Divine within the Jew from its concealment in the subconscious.

The Rabbis sought an explanation for the fact that the word “raise up” (behaalotecha) isused, instead of the more obvious “light” or “kindle.” And they concluded that the verse meant that Aaron was to kindle them “until the flame rises up by itself.”6

Aaron’s spiritual achievement was therefore not only to light the flame in the souls of the Jewish people, but to take them to the stage where they would give light of their own accord. He did not simply create disciples, people who were dependent on his inspiration. He engendered in them a love of G-d that they could sustain without his help.

3. Three Rules

There are three rules which applied to the Menorah in the Sanctuary and the Temple.7

Firstly, even a person who was not a priest could light the lamps.

But, secondly, only a priest could prepare the lamps, setting the wicks and the oil.

And, thirdly, the Menorah could only be lit in the Temple Sanctuary.

These rules are similarly the conditions in which spiritual awakening can take place, lighting the lamp of the soul.

Firstly, it is not the prerogative of the priest alone, or of the chosen few, to spread the light of Torah. The task belongs to every Jew, both as a privilege and as an obligation. Hillel’s words, “Be of the disciples of Aaron” were addressed to every individual.

But only the priest can do the preparation. We may be tempted to think that in pursuit of our aim of drawing Jews to the life of Torah, the end justifies the means; that concessions can be made on our own initiative for the sake of winning commitment. But against this is the warning that not everyone is capable of deciding which interpretations, which lines of influence are valid. This belongs to the priest.

What is a priest? In the time of the Temple, when Jews first possessed their land, the priests had no share of its territory. “G-d is his inheritance,” his only possession. This was his sanctity. In Rambam’s words,8 “Not only the tribe of Levi, but any man of any place whose spirit is willing… to separate himself and to stand before G-d and to minister to and serve Him,” he and only he is the mentor in whose footsteps we must follow.

And the place where the lamps are to be lit is in the Sanctuary. There are shades and levels of holiness. The Sanctuary is not the only holy place. But this specific task of lighting the flame could not be done in any place of a lesser degree of holiness. We must awaken the spirit of ourselves and others, to the highest degree of sanctity possible.

4. Seven Branches

The Menorah in the Sanctuary had seven branches and these represent the seven kinds of Jewish soul. There are some whose vocation is to serve G-d with love and kindness (chesed), some with fear and strictness (gevurah) and some who synthesize the two (tiferet). In all, there are seven general paths to the service of G-d and each Jew has one which is his own personal direction. But common to them all is the fact that they are alight with the flame of Torah: They burn with love and they shed the light of truth within the Sanctuary and from there to the whole world.

There was a peculiarity of the Temple, that its windows were “broad and narrow,”9 on which the Rabbis comment,10 “they were broad on the outside and narrow within, for I (G-d) am not in need of light.” Unlike other buildings whose windows are designed to admit light, the Temple was constructed to send light out to the world.

The source of this light was the lamps, the souls of the Israelites. And although each of them was unique, with his own special talents to bring to his work, they shared the fact that they were all sources of light.

This is the common goal of the efforts of every Jew, to bring the light of Torah to the world. Their means may differ—some approaching through strictness, some through love. But for those who choose the path of love, the ends and the means are the same: The goal is light and the way is light. This was Aaron’s path, “loving peace and pursuing peace, loving his fellow creatures and drawing them near to Torah.” And so has been the path of the great leaders of Chabad, lighting the dormant flame in the souls of Jews wherever they were to be found, preferring to be close than to be aloof, to be kind rather than severe, in bringing all our people near to Torah.

(Source: Likkutei Sichot, Vol. II pp. 314-318 (adapted))

 

CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: Paschal Prerequisites (Behaalotecha )

Behaalos’cha
Sivan 7, 5774 · June 5, 2014

 

Paschal PrerequisitesIn the portion of Behaalos’cha, the Torah relates1 how the Jewish people brought the Paschal offering in the desert on the fourteenth of Nissan , one year after their Exodus from Egypt. At that time, certain individuals were ritually impure and so could not bring their offering.In response to their lament “Why should we lose the privilege of bringing the offering,” G-d said that those unable to bring the Paschal offering on the fourteenth of Nissancould do so one month later, on the fourteenth of Iyar. This “makeup” offering is known as Pesach Sheni , the “Second Passover.”

In the simple context of the verse, there are three elements that may prevent one from bringing the Paschal offering at the appointed time. These are:

a) the individual was ritually impure during the time of the offering;

b) the person was outside the Courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash ;

c) the individual’s chametz was still in existence.

Why are these three elements prerequisites to offering the Pesach Rishon , the “First Passover”?

All sacrificial offerings, korbanos , possess three general components. First and most essential is — as indicated by the name korban, which is derived from the root karov , or near — that of drawing close to G-d.2

The second aspect of korbanos is that they elevate that which is below to the higher spiritual realms. This applied particularly to the portion of the korban that was consumed by the heavenly fire which descended upon the altar.3

The third element in korbanos is they draw down G-dliness from above. This applies mainly to the portion that was eaten by the priests, or by the individual who brought the offering. By consuming the korban, its sanctity permeated the individual, becoming his very flesh and blood.4

With regard to the Paschal offering, these three elements exist to an even greater degree, for the following reasons:

The closeness to G-d accomplished by the Paschal offering is far greater than that achieved by other offerings. This is because the spirituality attained is not merely an advance from level to level, but rather — as the name Pesach (Hebrew for “leaping”5) implies — that a Jew is thereby empowered to “leap” out of his previous existence, becoming an entirely new entity. The Paschal offering thus surpasses other offerings, after the bringing of which a person remains essentially unchanged.

The elevation of that which is below to a higher spiritual realm is also greater in the Paschal offering than in other offerings, for the elevation is accomplished even in that portion that is eaten. This is because that part as well is to be “roasted over fire.6 Fire — rising as it does from lower to higher — echoes the elevation from below to above.

So too with regard to the G-dliness drawn down through eating the Paschal offering. It too is greater than that afforded by other offerings, for “the Paschal offering originated for the purpose of being eaten.”7

In order to accomplish these three things, it is necessary

a) for the person’s chametz to have been destroyed;

b) that he be ritually pure; and

c) that he find himself within the confines of the Beis HaMikdash.

Chametz denotes arrogance.8 Since G-d says of a haughty individual that “We cannot dwell together,”9 the possession of chametz precludes drawing close to G-d, something that is integral to the Paschal offering.

The state of ritual impurity counters the elevation contained within the Paschal offering. Ritual impurity is an intangible; it cannot be grasped physically or even intellectually.10It consists of a change in a person’s spiritual status, whereby a soul’s spirituality is diminished. It therefore hinders a person’s ability to lift himself out of the physical world and become part of the spiritual one.

Being outside the Beis HaMikdash involves the physical body. Although a person may desire to be inside the Beis HaMikdash , and consequently — because of his heartfelt desire — in a spiritual sense he indeed is inside,11 his physical self is still outside. This is the opposite of the drawing down of G-dliness accomplished by eating the Paschal offering.

Pesach Sheni teaches us that even when one is lacking in any, or even all, of these three elements, and thus cannot bring the Paschal offering in its appointed time, “it is never too late; one can always rectify the past.”12

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. VIII, pp. 67-74.

Heavenly Food

In the Torah portion of Behaalos’cha, the Torah speaks at length about the manna, the heavenly food that sustained the Jewish people during our 40-year sojourn in the desert.

With regard to the manna, the Gemara notes: The verse states13 that “When the dew would descend upon the camp during the night, the manna would settle upon it.” From this verse it would seem that the manna descended within the encampment.

However, the verse also states:14 “The people went out and collected [the manna].” This would seem to indicate that the people had to go outside the camp in order to get it. Moreover, yet another verse states:15 “The people would spread out and collect [themanna].” In other words, the people would have to go a long way to receive the manna.

How are we to reconcile these three verses?

The Gemara answers that the verses are speaking of three different categories of Jews: The righteous had the manna descend at the entrance to their tents; the intermediates would go out a short distance and collect it; while the wicked would have to go a greater distance.

The manna is described in the Torah as “bread from heaven.”16 Because of this, there are some Sages17 who say that the blessing over manna was “who brings forth bread from heaven.”

The difference between physical bread and heavenly bread is that regular bread requires a great deal of labor to prepare.18 In addition, it produces waste products. This was not so with the manna. All the various forms of labor were not necessary; moreover, the manna did not produce any waste.19

This very special food was eaten by all the Jews while in the desert, serving as sustenance not only for the righteous and intermediate, but also for the wicked. Even for them it produced no waste. In other words, even when the manna was consumed by the wicked, it retained its essential nature.

And not only was the manna itself not subject to change; it even produced a change for the better in those who ate it — it refined even the wicked. Thus our Sages of blessed memory state20 that by eating the manna, the Jewish people became worthy of receiving and expounding the Torah.

Thus, the effect of the manna was felt by each of the 600,000 Jews who received the Torah. For each Jew has a unique contribution to make.21 By eating the manna, even the lowliest was able to reveal and expound on his unique portion of Torah.

And although it is true that even after eating the manna some of the wicked remained wicked, and did not become elevated even to the intermediate category, it nevertheless had a positive effect on them as well.

In light of the above, we can understand our Rabbis’ advice22 that if one does not know which portion to read on Shabbos, he should read the portion of the manna, for that portion was transmitted on Shabbos.

The above statement must be understood. Many portions were said on Shabbos, foremost among them the portion of the Ten Commandments.23 Why not recite thatportion when in doubt as to which one should be read?

According to the above, the reason is entirely understandable, for there is a unique relationship between the manna and Shabbos.

The nature of the manna was such that even as it descended from on high to this world it lost none of its spiritual qualities — so much so, that even when eaten by a wicked person it produced no waste, but rather refined him.

This same quality is found in Shabbos: The sanctity of Shabbos is so great that although it is a mitzvah to delight in physical pleasures on that day, we are nevertheless assured24 that — unlike the weekdays, when indulging in physical delights coarsens us — this delight will have no deleterious effect on our spirituality. On the contrary, the delight itself becomes a mitzvah.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, pp. 1035-1038.

 GARDEN OF TORAH: A Path of Light (Behaalotecha)

Sivan 7, 5774 · June 5, 2014
A Path of Light
Behaalos’cha

 

Adapted from
Sefer HaSichos 5749, p. 522ff;
Sefer HaSichos 5751, p. 598ff;
Sichos Shabbos Parshas Matos-Masei, 5743

The Goal of Education

In a single verse:1 “Educate a child according to his way; even when he grows older, he will not depart from it,” King Solomon communicates several fundamental concepts regarding the Torah approach to education.

The goal of education is not merely to transmit information, but to mold the student’s character, to set his feet on a path which he can follow all his life.

Every child will set out on a “way,” for life does not allow us to stand still, and as we undergo transitions, a route will be forged. But a child should be prepared for these transitions; they should not take him by surprise. That is the purpose of education to give him a standard of values and principles that teach him how to look ahead, to face and overcome life’s challenges.

Moreover, these guiding principles should be more than intellectual truths; they should be integral elements of the child’s makeup. This is the core of the learning experience to internalize ideas and make them part of oneself, instead of merely comprehending them in the abstract.

When a child is educated in this manner, he will be prepared to proceed on his way. Not only will he possess the focus, direction, and inner strength to confront challenges, he will have the initiative to seek them out. For knowledge empowers and energizes. When a child has learned principles and values which ring true, he will feel energy welling up within him which will naturally seek expression in positive life experiences.

Encouraging Individuality

Important in this process is the realization that every child has “his way” a nature of his own. As the Previous Rebbe would say:2 “Every individual Jew has a spiritual mission in his life.” Although we all share the common goal of transforming our world into a dwelling fit for G-d,3 each of us has individual gifts and tendencies. Expression of these different tendencies allows the Divine purpose to be manifest in various paths, giving it a more comprehensive scope.

A teacher should therefore not try to push all his students in a single direction. Instead, he should appreciate the gifts of each individual and cultivate their expression.4 Even when teaching the universal truths of the Torah, a teacher’s goal should not be conformity. Instead, he should try to enable every student to internalize these truths in a manner that suits his own nature.5

Shining Lamps

These concepts are alluded to in this week’s Torah reading which begins with the command to Aharon to kindle the menorah in the Sanctuary. The menorah symbolizes the Jewish people,6 for the purpose of every Jew’s existence is to spread Divine light throughout the world, as it is written:7 “The soul of man is the lamp of G-d.” For with “the light of the Torah, and the candle of mitzvos,”8 our people illuminate the world.

The menorah extends upward in seven branches, which symbolize seven different paths of Divine service. And yet it was made of a single piece of gold,9 indicating that the various qualities of the Jewish people do not detract from their fundamental unity. Diversity need not lead to division, and the development of true unity comes from a synthesis of different thrusts, every person expressing his own unique talents and personality.

Independent Efforts

When relaying G-d’s command to Aharon to kindle the menorah , the Torah uses the phrase,10 Behaalos’cha es haneiros, literally: “When you raise up the lamps.” Rashiexplains that this means the priest should apply the flame to the wick “until the flame rises on its own,” and shines independently.

Interpreting this concept allegorically, each of the expressions Rashi uses reflects a fundamental concept.

“The flame” Every person is potentially “a lamp.” But a flame realizes the potential, producing radiant light.

“Rises” A person should not remain content with his current level, no matter how refined. Instead, he should seek to proceed further, searching for a higher and more complete degree of Divine service.

“On its own” A person must internalize the influence of his teachers until their light becomes his own. The knowledge he learns should endow him with the power to “shine” independently.11

Moreover, he should “rise on his own,” i.e., the desire to proceed should become one’s own nature. Even without the encouragement of others, he should continually seek to advance.

Similarly, when teaching others, our intent should be that they also become “a flame which rises on its own” independent lamps who spread the “light of Torah” throughout their environment.

Journeying Forward

Behaalos’cha is not only the beginning of the Torah reading, it is the Torah reading’s name; the lessons it communicates relate to the reading in its entirety. This is expressed by the bulk of the Torah reading, which describes the preparations for and the initial stages of the journey of the Jewish people through the desert. The Baal Shem Tov explains12 that these journeys are reflected in the journeys of every individual through life.

The Jewish people did not remain at Mount Sinai, where they received the Torah and constructed the Sanctuary. Instead, they took the Torah and the Sanctuary with them as they set out on their journey through the desert of the world. Similarly, the kindling of the light in a person’s soul the goal of his education should enable him to take this “light of Torah,” with him in his journeys through the world. By spreading the light of Torah through these journeys, every individual contributes to fulfilling the purpose of all existence the establishment of a dwelling for G-d in our material world.

In that vein, the journeys of the Jewish people through the desert are also interpreted13 as an allusion of the journeys of our people through the ages toward the consummation of that purpose, the revelation of the light of Mashiach. And then we will join in the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, where we will see the priests again kindle the menorah.

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