This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Behaalotecha (5763)
This week's section begins with G-d telling Aaron that when he lights the Menorah in the Tabernacle the wicks are to be pointing inward so no one will say its purpose is to give light! (see end of Rashi 8:2). This is, at first glance, very strange.
What is so bad about it giving light? Isn't that the purpose of a Menorah?
Not only that but the Menorah was located inside a tent where only Cohanim (priests) were allowed to go, and it only burned during the day (just one candle remained the entire night). Who could make a mistake and say it was there for giving light?
To understand this here are two stories.
The first happened to me over twenty years ago. I was trying to sell our apartment in Bnei Brak in order to move to Kfar Chabad where I had just got a teaching job.
I met a lot of very interesting people that came to see the house but one especially stood out in my mind.
He was a Sphardic Jew who lived in a small forth floor apartment with his growing family of six children and wanted desperately to move out. He came to see my place several times and we got to know one another. He showed a real interest and finally told me that he had a buyer for his apartment and soon would close the deal!
But it never happened. The one that was going to buy his place backed out at the last minute and without money he was stuck. I felt so bad for him that I went and paid him a visit.
His apartment was small (three bedrooms for eight people) but despite the small children climbing all over everything it was a happy place and didn't seem cramped at all.
We sat, made a L'Chiam, his wife appeared, introduced herself saying she heard I was a Chabadnik (a follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) and urged her husband to tell me about their miracle.
"You know I'm not a Chabadnik." He said smiling. "In fact I have some complaints about Chabad like everyone else in Bne Brak," he said with a wink of his eye. "But I have to admit that without the Rebbe we wouldn't be sitting in this apartment now."
He cleared his throat, glanced as his wife and continued. "We used to live in this tiny rented place; twice as small as this one and had absolutely no means of buying a place of our own.
Then one day I heard that I was eligible for a loan from the housing commission. My wife and I checked it out, and excitedly filled out the applications.
Well, they promised that in a month they would send me a letter but they didn't. We couldn't figure out what was happening. I went down there several times, called countless times, got all my friends family and acquaintances to help.. with no luck.
Finally, a year later, they told me that they must have misplaced my application and I should re-apply.
"My wife, wrote a letter about the situation to your Rebbe and he answered that I should check my Tefillin. But I paid no attention to the answer and just re-applied; I had just bought a new pair of very expensive Tefillin that were kosher beyond a doubt
"They promised to contact us immediately. But it didn't happen; no letter or no phone call, nothing! We called and visited them and they kept promising until before we knew it another exasperating year passed and they suggested we apply again. It seems the papers had been lost again.
"By that time we had two more children and my wife was really getting mad. Now, not only was the house too small but my wife was screaming all the time; "You didn't even do the very minimum! You couldn't go check your Tefillin? What, you don't have the time? It's all your fault!!"
"After a few hours of that, I took the Tefillin, ran to the Sofer (Scribe) and asked him to please check them. 'But they are brand new!' he protested. 'Why waste your money? Wait a few years. Why do you want to check them now?' etc. etc.
"Anyway I lied and told him my wife had a bad dream so he opened them, took out the parchments, spread the first one on the table and we both almost fell off our seats."
At this point my host interrupted his story, stood up and said to me, "Here! Look I can show you! I keep them in the house to remember the miracle."
He walked over to a chest, opened a drawer, fished around and finally came back with a small rolled up piece of parchment.
"See! Here, take a look! In the very first paragraph there's a big hole in first letter of the word 'Baitecha' (your house). The Tefillin were unfit for use!! The Sofer kept apologizing, scratching his head and looking at that hole from every possible angle; he couldn't believe his eyes and I bought a new pair on the spot.
"Well, it was incredible. I went to the nearest Bait Kenesset (Synagogue) put on the Tefillin and prayed like never before and the next day I got a call from the housing board; the money was waiting! They even said that if we don't come get in within seven days they will give it to someone else. And that's how we bought this house over five years ago."
The next story happened to my wife. She runs an advertising agency near Tel Aviv and one day she was told that a certain firm might be interested in her services. She followed the lead, called the owner, introduced herself and asked if he had plans for advertising.
He said that he wasn't interested in advertising at this stage, his budget wouldn't allow it but if she was interested in hearing about a miracle that the Lubavitcher Rebbe did for him he would be happy if she came to his office.
It seems he had read about her in a business magazine about how she was a Chassid Chabad and he knew she would appreciate the story.
My wife arrived there several days later and was shown immediately into his office. He began by apologizing profusely that he didn't have the budget for advertising and began his story.
"When my daughter was fifteen years old daughter she was a very talented and promising dancer; ballet jazz you name it. Although she had doubts about going professional, she loved to dance and spent hours each day practicing.
Then one morning, unexplainably, she couldn't get out of bed. She cried out and we ran to her room and then frantically called an ambulance; she was paralyzed and lost all feeling from the waist down! A real tragedy.
A month and tens of experts later it was official; there was no hope. The only thing the doctors could guess was that maybe she had contracted some sort of rare nerve disease but whatever it was the nerves were destroyed and there was no cure.
"With no alternative we brought her home and a pall of sadness and depression replaced the music and joy that once filled the house.
"Then, one day, a Chabad Chassid that I knew came to the office to ask or a donation. Usually I would donate with an open hand but today I just told the fellow leave me alone.
"'Did something happen?" The young man asked. "Maybe I can help. Forget the donation. You look really sad, what happened?' And try as I could I couldn't get rid of him so finally I him about what happened.
"The fellow heard the story and as soon as I finished he piped up with a solution.' Listen, the Rebbe says you should check Mezuzas. Did you check your Mezuzahs? You have Mezuzas on the doors of your office and your home, I bought them for you! You have to have them checked! What do you care? I'll do all the work and I won't charge anything."
"Finally I told him to do whatever he wanted and leave me alone and I forgot the entire incident.
Late the next day he was back with an excited look on his face.
"Look! I went to your house yesterday, took off the mezuzahs from the doors and, have a look! The one on your daughter's door had a letter (lamed) of the word "U'v'lecht'cha" (and when you walk) partially worn away. Here I bought a new one and I'm on my way your house to put it on now."
"Well, about a week later my daughter wakes up screaming. Her legs were tingling! we rushed her to the hospital they made tests and announced that definitely things were changing. The next day she moved her foot and a few weeks later she was already trying to stand up! They all wanted to know what Professor was treating her but they refused to believe the Mezuzah story, in fact no one really enjoys hearing it. That's why I was happy when you called.
"That was over five years ago! Today she is walking like everyone else, still not dancing yet but thank G-d it was a real miracle!!"
These stories help to answer our question.
The Menorah represents the Jewish people, especially the Tzadikim
(and all Jews are potentially Tzadikim).
And the Torah is telling us here that the purpose of the Jews is notjust to illuminate the world with physical ideas and inventions butrather to enlighten all mankindwith a new type of awareness even higher than the spiritual: the awareness of the Creator Himself!
As we see from the above miracle stories.
All true miracles come from the power of the Torah. But the purpose of the Torah is to reveal the SOURCE of all light; thatthe GIVER of the Torah is the Creator of theUniverse.
As we say thrice daily in the end of the Alenu prayer; "In the heavens above(Spritual worlds) and the earth below there is NOTHING else (but HaShem)."
Similarly Maimonides writes that Moses did the same thing. He brought the ten plagues, split the sea brought Manna from heaven not to reveal spiritual powers but rather only to rid people of their obstacles to serving the Creator.
But Moshiach will be the true Menorah. As Mimonedies writes at the
end of his masterpiece; Then the world will be filled with the awareness Oneness of G-d like water fills the sea.
It all depends on us, every good deed, even one, if done to help bring Moshiach will not only illuminate and improve the world but tilt the scales and bring .
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