Shining Lights by Uri Goffin


          The beginning of our Parsha tells us of the commandment given to Aharon, the Kohein Gadol, to go up and light the Menorah (במדבר ח;ב).  What is the significance of the Menorah?  What can be learned from this commandment that remains relevant even today when there is no Menorah?  The purpose of the Menorah was to give off light.  Physically, light is made up of waves, and waves in general are not broken up or changed by a disturbance which is smaller than that wave is.  In addition, a beam of light is made up of many individual rays, radiantly shining at different angles to form a glorious light.

            In Sefer Mishlei, the Torah is compared to light, as the Posuk says, "כי נר מצוה ותורה אור" (משלי ו;כ"ג).  The Torah is likened to a large light, as opposed to a Mitzvah which is compared to a candle, a single ray of light.  The Torah, consisting of many different aspects, like the light which consists of many waves, cannot be overcome by any outside force, or undone by another theology.  Similarly, if adhered to properly, the Torah can protect the person living according to its laws from being harmed or disturbed.  Moreover, if the nation as a whole is made up of many individuals who adhere to a life as guided by the Torah, then that group will shine brightly, like a beam of light made up of many rays, and subsequently be able to teach the world in a more wholesome fashion, which is certainly one of the goals of the Jewish people. 

            From this we can understand certain points about the beginning of our Parsha.  Rashi asks what connection there is between Parshas Nasso, the previous Parsha, and our Parsha, Parshas Behaalosecha.  In the last Posuk of Parshas Nasso, Moshe has a private conversation with Hashem in the newly dedicated Mishkan, the contents of which are not disclosed.  It was simply a private discussion between Moshe and Hashem.  This perhaps symbolizes one type of relationship that we have with Hashem.  We can approach Him in private, such as during Tefillah, and relate to Him on a one to one basis.  Aharon, on the other hand, is commanded at the beginning of our Parsha, to ignite beams of light.  This shows us that as a community, we should join together as rays of light do in order to reach up to Hashem, as the Posuk says, "בהעלתך את הנרות," implying that individual נרות, representing individual people, should be raised to Hashem. 

            The Jewish people are commanded to be like Hashem; we must try and perfect ourselves in order to reach that great height and to be G-d like.  The Torah should be our blueprint, teaching us how to be G-d like despite our human frailties.  The Torah is compared to light, and we should therefore be aware that a person leading his life by the Torah can never be overcome in his faith and philosophy if it is true, because he, as an individual observing Mitzvos, is like a wave.  His faith cannot be destroyed, because he is a part of that great light.  Judaism is stronger when being applied by and to the masses.  We become stronger as a nation because the more the rays of light, the brighter the beam.  The Torah's potential to guide us in order to perfect the world then becomes brighter as well.  Therefore, we are raised up, as the lights in the Mishkan were by Aharon, and we will together, like waves of light, be unaffected by disturbances and will shine brightly to others. 

Unity and the Menorah by Yaakov Weiland

Lines of Communication by Aaron Frazer