Friday, May 28, 2021/17 Sivan, 5781
Parashat B’haalot’cha Numbers 8:1−12:16
Have you ever wondered why the Menorah, the 7-branch candelabra, is so significant in Jewish life? Some say that it represents the 7 days of the week, with the taller in the middle being Shabbat. Others suggest that the 3 branches on one side and the 3 on the other represent the Torah which is written and the Torah which is spoken, while Seforno suggests that the 3 on the right represent Torah learning, Kodesh, with the 3 on the left being the work of the week, Chol. In any case, the Menorah takes the main stage in this week’s Torah portion, B’ha’alotcha.
In this week’s portion, Aaron is commanded, “When you raise up (kindle) the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand.” (Numbers 8:2) Rashi explains that Aaron was to kindle the flames until they could rise on their own. To raise a flame, literally means to hold the fire to the wick until it can sustain the flame on its own. It was not Aaron’s job to bring gifts, as each tribe had been commanded, instead, it was his job to illuminate those gifts, bringing light to the Divine presence in the Mishkan. As we begin to imagine our return to our own sanctuary, we must bring light before us, allowing the divine presence to fill the space. We have learned over the past year how to let the light of God shine through our screens, in community with each other. Now we must keep that light alive, as we rekindle the sparks of the Menorah inside the Temple walls, realizing that everybody, whether in person or on screens, is bringing Divine light to all of our programs and services. We WILL become the light in front of the lampstand, allowing every flame of Temple Beth El to sustain their own personal flame, be it in the seats of our sanctuary or from the seats of our homes.
Our sages remind us that the menorah is representative of the neshama within us all. Aaron is being commanded not to just inspire the Jewish people, but to bring them to a point where the light within them shines brightly, on its own, to bring them to a point that they can sustain the flame without his help. We must all be the Aaron’s of our community, recognizing that no neshama gets left behind anymore. Through the years, we have always known that there were individuals who could not be with us in person, but we never had the technology to bring “in person” to them. No more will that be the situation, as we enter into a new Multi-Access generation of Temple Beth El.
May we continue to illuminate the Divine in each other, as we rekindle the Menorah inside of Temple Beth El, in the coming weeks and months, and may that flame shine brightly throughout our building, and every Mikdash M’at, every home that welcomes the holiness provided by our community into it.
Cantor Ilan Davidson