The Ohr Hachayium Hakadosh takes us into a deeper understanding of why particularly the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah lamps was a comfort for Aharon HaKohen. We have to understand the concept of חנוכה – channukah, which means inauguration and dedication. To inaugurate is to start something new. חנוכת המזבח the inauguration of the Altar, brought newness into life, into the world. When we do tshuvah, the services performed on the Altar bring us atonement and renew our deep connection [at-one-ment] with Hashem. Aharon HaKohen was disheartened because neither he or anyone else from his tribe participated in this most significant inauguration.
Hashem comforts Aharon with חנוכת המנורה – ‘chanukat haMenorah’ -the daily lighting of the Menorah lamps, for this is an even deeper inauguration, because, as the Midrash says the Menorah lamps will continue to be lit forever, even when we no longer will have the Altar – May we merit to see the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash and the restoration of the Temple services, quickly in our days. The daily preparation and kindling of the Menorah lamps is a new חנוכה daily inauguration- even deeper than that of the Altar.
The lighting of the menorah lamps reaches into the depth of your soul-lamp, your Divine soul-light within, which can never be extinguished. Each day Aharon inaugurated the Menorah, each day he rekindled the soul-lamps of all of Israel; each day he reconnected us with our soul-lamps, with our deepest life essence – the deepest starting point of tshuvah.
The holy Piaseczner Rebbe, in his essay on חינוך Chinuch, explains that education is far more and far deeper than training. ‘Chinuch’- real education is the process of facilitating the student to discover and manifest his truest holy essence- to be the beautiful person that Hashem envisioned him to be. Chinuch illuminates your soul-lamp, Hashem’s candle!
And this can and needs to be done each day. Even when we don’t have the Altar, Aharon HaKohen, the tzaddik can help us to illuminate the soul-lamp within. This is why it is so important to be connected with true tzaddikim. And know that there is a tzaddik in you, in every one of us; therefore we can and must help one another to illuminate the soul-lamps.
Of course we need and want to have the Beit Hamikdash, we need and want the Altar to be restored quickly in our days. But it is so very important to know that the mitzvah of kindling the holy lights of the Menorah, is accessible each day; particularly on Shabbos and Yom Tov and Channukah. We can always reconnect with our souls- Hashem’s candles.
כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה, וְתוֹרָה אוֹר (Proverbs 6:23) Each mitzvah, each good deed, no matter how small, is a candle, and the Torah is the light. Holy brothers and sisters, we are all Kohanim, let’s bring Hashem’s light to the world, with love and joy.
Have a wonderful and beautiful, filled with holy Shabbos light B’ahava ubivracha Sholom
Teachings from previous years:
The Lubavitcher Rebbe ztz"l often taught that the essence of the 'parsha' is contained in its name. The name of this weeks' parsha is “B'ha-alotcha”, which literally translates as -- when you are raising up. What a blessing it is to read the opening verses of this weeks’ parsha... we all need to be uplifted, we all need much more holy light.
In the middle of this week’s parsha there is actually (according to some opinions) another book of Torah that is bracketed with the letter נ – ‘nun’ (pronounced like noon) actually with two upside down נ’s.
Bamidbar 10:35 hen the ark set forward, that Moses said: 'Rise up, O LORD, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.' 10:36 And when it rested, he said: 'Return, O LORD, unto the ten thousands of the families of Israel.'
The commentators explain, that this is to separate the first part of Bamidbar from the second part of Bamidbar that relates the various great mistakes that we made in the past; let us daaven for wisdom and guidance, for the strength and love to learn from our mistakes and not to repeat them. We must be strong in our faith and in our commitment to support each other. The truth and the light of the Torah and Hashem's Will, will prevail. B'ezrat Hashem we will see the coming of Moshiach soon, bimheirah b'yameinu - quickly in our days.
This Shabbos parshas B'ha-alotcha, says the Kozhnitzer Maggid zy"a, is blessed with flashes of the Or Haganuz, the hidden light. Let us all make an effort to see each other’s light, to see the reflection of Hashem’s light in each other, o help one another light our Menorahs. Let us all remember that when we look at one another, we could actually yearn to and see a lamp of Hashem. Let's learn about it.
"Va-yedabeyr H' el Moshe leimor...dabeyr el Aharon... b'ha-alotcha et haneyrot.... va-ya-as kein Aharon el mul pnai ha-menorah heh-elah et neiroteha ka-asher tzivah Hashem et Moshe." (Num.8: 1-3) "And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, speak to Aharon and tell him 'when you [will be 'raising up'] light the lamps, towards the face of the Menorah shall the seven candles shine [cast their light Aharon did so towards the face of the Menorah, he lit its lamps just as Hashem commanded Moshe. This is how the Menorah was made; beaten from a block of gold from its base until its flowers it is beaten out [of a solid block] according to the vision which Hashem showed Moshe, so he made the Menorah." [Acc. to the Midrash--so HASHEM made the Menorah] (Num. 8: 1-4)
How do you light soul-candles?
Aharon haKohen was told "B'ha-alotcha et haneyrot." When you will raise up (light) the lamps [of Hashem]. One would have expected the word "b'hadlakatcha" [when you will kindle] to be used in this verse, why then does it say "b'ha-alotcha" [when you will raise up]? (When we light Shabbos and Yom Tov candles, also Channukah candles, we say להדליק נר not להעלות נר) Rashi explains that from the use of the word בהעלותך ‘b’ha-alotcha’ we learn that Aharon was to hold a flame near to each wick until each flame would rise up on its own.
"Neir Hashem nishmas adam" – "the lamp of Hashem is the soul of man." (Proverbs 20:27) Each soul is a 'neir' - a lamp of Hashem. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that when Aharon Hakohen was lighting the Menorah, he was also lighting the lamps of each Jewish soul; he was bringing their Divine Light out of concealment. We have learned that in a certain sense each one of us is a Kohen and each one of us has been given the holy task of 'raising up' Hashem's lamps.
How are we to do this? As we shall see there are a number of important aspects involved. First, is prayer. We need to sincerely yearn and pray to be holy lamplighters, we need to have 'Mashiach eyes' and we need to love our fellow Jews. Second, is humility.
Once during a television interview Reb Shlomo zt"l was asked what was the secret of his great success in 'kiruv' – in bringing so many thousands of Jews back to their roots, did he have some kind of formula? [Kiruv – is the widely used term by those doing religious outreach work. It means, bringing close.] Reb Shlomo zt"l said two things. First, he said that he doesn't use the word 'kiruv' because who is to say that he is closer to G-d than his fellow. Maybe this person who is seemingly less observant, is actually closer to G-d? He may be a greater luminary than you- ‘you’ll never know’ so be humble. Secondly, he said, that he does not have any formula at all. He just prays each time that Hashem should put the right words in his mouth and that these words should come from the heart and enter the heart.
Third, is to illuminate the other without burning them. Bring your candle to them and they will illuminate on their own. We learn this from the use of the word ‘b’ha-alotcha’ instead of ‘b’hadlakatcha’.
Rashi loves juxtapositions!
An interesting question: The instructions for lighting the Menorah and its construction were already given earlier in the Torah! Why then is Aharon receiving additional instructions, right here and now, following the parsha of the Nesi'im's חנוכת המזבח dedication of the altar'? In Rashi’s words: "Why is the parsha of the Menorah adjacent to the parsha of the Nesiim [the princes of the tribes] ? To answer the question, Rashi brings us a Midrash: BECAUSE, WHEN AHARON SAW THE LEADERS DEDICATION OF THE ALTAR HE FELT HUMILIATED [HE FELT WEAKENED] SINCE HE WAS NOT 'WITH THEM' IN THE DEDICATION [OF THE ALTAR] NEITHER HE NOR ANYONE OF HIS TRIBE. So THE HOLY ONE BLESSED BE HE, SAID TO HIM, "BY YOUR LIFE [I SWEAR TO YOU] YOURS IS GREATER THAN THEIRS! FOR YOU WILL LIGHT AND PERFECT THE LAMPS.
What was really bothering Aharon, why did he feel humiliated? Why was he disheartened? The commentators also ask why did Hashem comfort Aharon particularly with the lighting of the Menorah, after all there were many other awesome services that only he performed in the Sanctuary, such as the daily Quetoret incense offering, among others? There are many layers of explanations in the teachings of Chassidus and Kabbalah, on this Midrash. I heard the following explanation, but unfortunately I do not remember in whose name:
Because he was not 'WITH THEM'. Aharon Hakohen was so connected to each individual yid, he was always making peace between people, he was always including everyone in what he was doing. So when he saw the amazing unity of the tribes in their service of the dedication of the altar, a dedication in which neither he nor anyone else from his tribe of Levi participated in, his 'DA'AT', his consciousness became weak. He wanted so much to be a part of the dedication and since he had no part in it he felt grief- on the verge of losing his self-confidence as a servant of Hashem. So Hashem comes to comfort him and tells him: "YOUR SERVICE OF LIGHTING THE MENORAH IS GREATER THAN THEIR SERVICE OF DEDICATING THE ALTAR".
The Ramban cites another two Midrashim that are very much related to the one quoted by Rashi. These Midrashim say that this parsha is an allusion to the re-dedication of the Temple that would be accomplished many generations later, by Aharon's descendants, the Chashmonaim family with the miracle of the lights of Channukah – a miracle that continues to be celebrated to this very day with the annual kindling of the Chanukah lights. That is why Hashem said, "YOUR SERVICE OF LIGHTING THE MENORAH IS GREATER" since your service of lighting the Menorah would continue even after the destruction of the Holy Temple – the Infinite Light of the Holy One blessed be He, that you bring into the world will accompany and illuminate the Jewish people until the ultimate redemption when the Menorah will be lit once again in the Third Temple – may it be quickly in our days.
The holy Baal Shem Tov brings teaches that the lighting of the Menorah corresponds to "Bereishit" the very first utterance of Creation - the unspoken utterance - the מאמר סתום - ma'amar satum. By lighting the Menorah Aharon Hakohen was drawing down to each invidual Jew, the light of the very Beginning ... the light by which each person can start again – the light of renewal.
"..NEIR HASHEM ...NISHMAS ADAM" - "THE LAMP OF HASHEM... IS THE SOUL OF MAN"..... [Proverbs 20:27] Each soul is a 'neir' a lamp of Hashem. "B'HA-ALOTCHA ET HANEIROT ..." when you will raise up (light) the lamps [of Hashem]. When Aharon Hakohen lit the Menorah, he was also lighting the lamps of each Jewish soul, by bringing Hashem's Divine Light into the world. Anyone who truly seeks to see this spiritual light, and makes a serious the effort to attain it, can do so even today. Even today, when we still do not have the holy Temple, we can still receive of this light, we are still inspired by this light. Therefore, your portion in the service of the Mishkan, will last eternally. Every Jew will one day light the Channukah lamp; you will give over to every holy soul the ability to be holy Menorah lighters.
On another level, what makes the service of the lighting of the Menorah greater is that while the service of the sacrifices brings atonement, it is the lighting of the Menorah that arouses intimate Tshuvah – as Hashem's 'or ganuz', hidden light is revealed in our hearts and souls. (See Reb Shlomo's teaching further on.)
It was Aharon's sincere yearning to "be" together with everyone, that brought him the blessing of being the servant who would bring Hashem's spiritual light to each of Hashem's lamps, in every generation. His yearning to "be" with each of us, to unite each one of us in peace, continues to "inspire" each of us to start again, and continues to help each one of us to "inspire" one another, with the spiritual light, with which Hashem created the world.
In verse 2 at the opening of our parsha we read, "AND AHARON DID JUST AS HASHEM HAD COMMANDED HIM." All the commentators ask why is the Torah telling us this? Would anyone have thought that he would do otherwise? Rashi explains that the Torah is praising Aharon for doing everyday exactly as he was instructed to do, – "SHELO SHEENAH" – he did not make any changes. It seems like the question still needs to be answered – why would you think that Aharon would make any changes in the practice of this great mitzvah?
The Mei Hashiloach explains "SHELO SHEENAH" – that he did not make any changes, as follows. It is common experience that in our practice of our daily mitzvot, we often lose some of our excitement and joy in their performance. All too often we sink into an autopilot mode, performing the mitzvot routinely without true excitement and joy. We become "old" and we fall asleep. [The word 'sheenah' is thus related to the word 'shainah' – sleep.] The greatness of Aharon was that each day he would light the Menorah with the same joy and anticipation, as if he was doing for the first time.
Reb Shlomo zt"l provides a very dramatic explanation of "SHELO SHEENAH." [L'ma'an Achai V'reyai p.56] Aharon haKohen was an extraordinarily holy man. Most people imagine a holy person as someone who keeps himself at a distance from the ordinary folk and remains aloof from their day-to-day life, protecting him or herself from the assumed ungodliness of the street.
When I used to teach in high school and elementary school, I had many opportunities to learn parshas Kedoshim [Va'yikra 19] with my students. In that parsha we are commanded to be holy. I would ask my students to close their eyes and visualize a holy person. After doing this, they would open their eyes again and I would then ask them the following two questions: 1] Was the holy person you 'saw', male or female? 2] What did they look like and how were they dressed? As you may have imagined, most of the 'holy people' were males and they [both the holy males and females] were dressed quite differently from us. The problem with such descriptions of holy people is that we then see them as so beyond us that we can never imagine ourselves as being holy. Sadly, most of us have a difficult time of perceiving ourselves as being connected to holiness, or ever being holy ourselves.
But Aharon haKohen was not like that at all. Reb Shlomo describes our first High Priest in a very different manner. Aharon haKohen was indeed very holy, and at the same time very accessible. He was able to connect everyone with their holiness within.
Aharon haKohen was the first Kohen and the first Kohen Gadol ever. All Kohanim until Moshiach is coming are his descendants and their sanctity stems from him. One would imagine that he surely spent all his time in the sanctuary, offering sacrifices, studying Torah, praying and meditating. He was so holy that the entire Yom Kippur service was done by him; he was the only one to enter into the Holy of Holies once a year on Yom Kippur on behalf of the entire nation, and only he pronounced the "Shem Hameforash," the unutterable Divine Name of G-d. All this is true, yet at the same time he was able to be very close to his people – not despite his holiness, but, because he was so holy!
Reb Shlomo explains: What did Aharon haKohen's pronouncing Hashem's Holy Name in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur mean to him on a daily basis throughout the year? What does it mean to us today?
Reb Shlomo explains that these very same lips that uttered Hashem's Name, were making peace between people throughout the year! This is the depth of uttering Hashem’s holy name- what does it mean to you in the street, in the marketplaces, in the domain of the many? Does saying “Baruch attah Hashem… Blessed are You Hashem” permeate your daily life with meaning?
“Hillel says, be among the students of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the people and bringing them close to the Torah.” (Mishnah: Pirkei Avot, Chap. 1)
It is explained that Aharon did not merely give lip service to peace. Instead of spending most of his time isolated in the protected holiness of the Sanctuary, he was outside among the people, talking with them, listening to them and actively helping them live in peace. He would make peace between husband and wife, between business partners, between parents and children, between friends, etc.
Just how would he accomplish this? The Mishna commentators explain that he would go to each of the feuding parties and tell them how sorry and broken hearted their friend or spouse is feeling over fighting with them. He helped everyone reconnect with their own soul and with the Shechina which fled from them when they were quarreling. He helped everyone realize that the one they were fighting with still has a caring soul. And then when they would meet again they would embrace in love and forgive one another.
The holiness of Hashem's Name was on Aharon's lips every single day. A holy person speaks holy; a holy person speaks healing words of comfort, reconciliation and peace. The Oneness of G-d was very real to Aharon HaKohen. Because he was so close to Hashem, he was close to everyone.
Aharon HaKohen could not tolerate people hurting one another; he could not walk by without doing something to help. His holiness would not allow him to do the services in the Sanctuary, unless he gave it full expression in the street. He so much wanted everyone to see and be in Hashem’s Oneness and love everywhere and always.
When Aharon would meet someone who was 'off' in his religious practice, he did not tell him "Listen brother, you're off, you are a mess and you better change." Aharon haKohen saw with 'Mashiach eyes'.
He saw the depths of each person. He saw that people are truly holy on the inside. He actively loved them by being with them and sincerely caring about them, by seeing and focusing on their good points and their inner holiness, by speaking with them lovingly; by arousing their Divine souls they would realize how holy they were and how connected they were. In Aharon’s presence you became aware of the 'natural' holy fire that is aflame in your heart.
"Sheloh sheenah" – he did not change – means he did not try to make the other person change, says Reb Shlomo. Rather, when a yid met Aharon HaKohen, suddenly a holy flame was kindled within him. He once again felt that he still does have a neshamah, thank G-d. Something within is still alive. And in that holy space, everyone deeply regrets that they were ‘fighting against’ an other, instead of ‘being with them’, in love and kindness.
This was the greatness of Aharon haKohen. Aharon ‘actively’ loved everyone. When you see someone who is 'off', you need Moshiach eyes to love him and help him. You don't learn to love from 'outside', it is a matter of the 'inside'. As he would light the Menorah he connected all of Israel with the 'or ganuz' – ‘the hidden light’ and inspired all of us to do intimate Tshuvah.
Questions for Consideration: How do you envision a holy person? Is this holy person very different from you? Much older than you? Male or female? Dressed similar to you or very different? Have you experienced holiness, even if only for a very short moment? Do you see a connection between the holiness of your spiritual practice and your regular daily activities, interactions, and relationships? What are ways that you manifest your inner holiness in your daily activities, interactions, and relationships? Is it hard for you to love yourself or others as you/they are, “shelo sheenah”, without wanting to changing yourself/the other? When you say “Shema Yisrale Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad”, what do you think about when you say “Echad”? How does this relate to your daily life?
Classes Broadcast This Week:
Sources: with R Avraham Sutton
Parshat HaShavua: As R Brodt was in Chutz L'Aretz he didn't have class this week. He will resume his shiur next week.
Reb Shlomo's Teachings with R Sholom Brodt: Thursday
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So He Made The Menorah— So Hashem Made The Menorah
According to the Midrash, brought in Rashi, it was Hashem who made the Menorah. The Midrash explains that Moshe was not able to comprehend how to make the Menorah and therefore Hashem told him to just throw the gold into the fire and He made the Menorah. The holy Bal Shem Tov explains why Moshe was not able to make the Menorah.
According to the Kabbalah the ten vessels of the Mikdash - the Sanctuary, correspond to the Ten Utterances Of Creation. The Menorah corresponds to "Bereishis" – the unspoken utterance - the very beginning of the creation of the world, even before anything was said. By lighting the Menorah Aharon Hakohen was drawing down to each individual Jew, the light of the very Beginning, the light by which each person can start again, the light of renewed creation. Moshe Rabbeinu therefore understood that a human couldn't accomplish this on his own, and therefore he could not make the Menorah; only Hashem can bring a person back to the Bereishis point of infinite potential.
There are 'Baalei tshuvah' – people who have done tshuvah that grew up in non-religious homes and environments but their lives were thankfully normal and loving. They came back to their roots as a result of inquiry and searching for Hashem. And there are 'Baalei tshuvah' who had grown up in religious homes, and rebelled against their upbringing for various reasons, but then they came back. Some of those that rebelled did so because their belief system was shattered by abuse. Yet they came back, because somewhere somehow they had a glimpse of the holy light of the Menorah, the light of Creation, the 'or ganuz' – that was hidden in their hearts, that no one could really extinguish. Such is the awesome power of the light of the Menorah that was lit by Aharon haKohen and his descendants.
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Deep in the concealment
deep in the ma'amar satum- the concealed utterance
lies hidden the deepest secret
even if you have fallen to really low and even evil places ח"ו
even there the secret of the ma'amar satum is there
to help you open your heart and cry out AYEH
where o where Hashem is Your honor and glory
to reconnect you with בראשית-Bereishit
to be illuminated once again
as Aharon haKohen lights the menorah
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Have a wonderful Shabbos kodesh with much joy, light and love,