This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Tetzaveh (5760)
“And you (G-d is speaking to Moshe) command the Children of Israel and they should take to you pure olive oil…”
The Torah is speaking to the leader of each and every generation telling him to inspire and be an example to all the Jews, that they reveal the precious Jewish identity concealed inside of each of them.
The Zohar and other Midrashim, liken this Jewish identity, (or ‘G-dly soul’ as it is called in the teachings of Chabad) to olive oil:
- Like olive oil, it is hidden and requires effort to reveal it.
- Like oil, it can never really be mixed and always floats above all other liquids (similarly, Jews, even the assimilated, always seem to stand out as Jews).
- Oil, if dropped on a solid will spread out and soak in (similarly Jews are interested and involved in everything).
- Oil makes light.
Every Jew, without exception, has such a soul, and it often manifests itself in the strangest ways.
For instance, this story from an Israeli newspaper, told by a Jew who owned a non-kosher restaurant in Tel-Aviv:
“Once a man entered my restaurant and ordered a ham sandwich. I prepared it, gave it to him, he took one look at it, and suddenly his face became contorted with anger. He leaned his face over into mine, and started screaming; ‘What are you giving me!? What is this!? What do you think I am… a Goy!!?’ Like that. He was really mad! So I tried to calm him down and asked him, if he didn’t want to eat pork then why did he come in here to eat?
You know what he answered? He said “Pork? Who cares about pork! It’s Passover!!! What are you giving me Chamatz for!!?” So I took two pieces of Matza from my own lunchbox, took the meat out of his sandwich and put it between the matza, and the man was happy.”
We can find hundreds, even millions of such examples of the Jewish soul in its dormant ‘exile’ state where, as in a dream, nothing is paradoxical and the craziest opposites seem to make sense: The Talmud tells us that before a Jewish thief steals he prays to G-d for success, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews today are very jealous and proud of the title ‘Jew’ although they reject the laws and practices of Judaism etc. etc.
This is what King Dovid meant in Psalms 126 “When G-d brings back the dispersed Jews, we will be like dreamers”.
In other words, one day (King David is speaking about when when Moshiach arrives) everyone is going to wake up and realize that all the paradoxes and crazy ideas that contradicted and concealed Jewish identity these thousands of years were only part of a big dream.
The present Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that ours is the generation of the revelation of Moshiach and therefore not much is needed to wake us up.
All we have to do is to make light…. as much light as possible. (That is why there are over one thousand Chabad Houses throughout the world).
The only fuel pure and potent enough to make such light, however, is the ‘pure oil’ hidden in the inner being of every Jew, as the first sentence of our Torah section concludes:
” …pounded for the illumination that the lamp burn eternally.”
The Rebbe ‘squeezes’ this oil from his Chassidim. This is the fuel that keeps the lights of the Chabad Houses burning.
I once overheard a a Religious Zionistic Jew ask a Chabad Chassid “Why doesn’t your Rebbe encourage all the Chassidim to come live in the land of Israel?”
The Chabadnik answered, “Just as you value the land of Israel, so our Rebbe inspires us to value every Jew. That’s why we spend billions of dollars and squeeze ourselves to make Chabad houses all over the world, because we believe that the most precious thing in the world is each and every Jew.”
But it takes two sides to make pressure. In our case the Rebbe is pressing from one side but we must press ourselves from the other.
In Russia, where Chabad originated and was centered up to the last years of the Previous Rebbe, the oppressive, anti-Semitic governments ‘helped us’ squeeze from the other side.
But in our ‘free’ generation we must do it ourselves.
This is the main lesson to us from the Rebbe, indeed he is teaching it to us by personal example! We must be crushed every time we see a Jew that does not reveal his Judaism, and we must squeeze ourselves and do ALL WE CAN to bring them to Jewish consciousness.
Namely to hasten the day when Moshiach will build the Holy Temple, bring ALL The Jews back to the Holy Land and the lighting of the Menorah will resume again!
It all depends on us; one more good deed, word or even thought can bring
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