First Things First by Rabbi Yosef Adler


In order to gain a new perspective on the significance of the Mitzvah of Hadlakat Nerot, I would like to take a look at the final occasion which describes the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan.  Parshat Terumah is devoted exclusively to a description of the Menorah of the Mishkan.  The Aron, Shulchan, Menorah and Mizbachot are described.  Parshat Tetzaveh teaches us how to fashion the garments the Kohanim were to wear and then the sequence of daily activities is described.  What is so unusual is that sandwiched in between these themes which flow so smoothly are two verses that open Parshat Tetzaveh which decide Aharon’s role in lighting the Menorah everyday.  And the question is an obvious one – if Aharon and his sons have yet to be dedicated, their garments not yet described, why begin the Parsha with the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah and thrust it in the middle of the construction of the Mishkan? 

I would suggest that the Menorah lighting should be viewed as a part of the construction of the Mishkan that one is called upon to build every day of one’s life.  The Menorah was selected as the symbol to convey their idea because symbolically, it represents the past presence of the Divine Shechinah (see the Gemara in Shabbat “Vechi Leorah Hu Tzarich – Ela Edut Sheshechina Shorah Beinehem”).

This will explain why the Chachamim decided that the first act of dedicating the Mikdash, having defeated the Greeks, would be the rebuilding of the Menorah.  After all, the lighting of the Menorah is not the only activity that had ceased as a result of the torment of the Yevanim.  There were no Korbanot, no incense and no Menorah.  They selected the Menorah because of its additional symbol that it represents the daily act of building and rekindling our commitment on a daily basis.  This idea is so relevant to us as well as we often sit back and try to rest on our laurels and previous accomplishments.  What we need to remember is that true growth can often take place if one recognizes the need to build and grow on a daily basis.  Then we, too, will be privileged to witness the light of the Menorah in the Mikdash highlighting our relationship with God.

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