This week’s Torah portion, Behaalotcha, is read after the holiday of Shavuot, on which we celebrated the giving of the Torah. It begins with the command to Aaron the High Priest to light the menora in the Holy Temple. Rashi, the great Torah commentator, explains that Aaron’s job was to kindle the lamps “until the flame was able to rise up by itself.” The lights of the menora had to be self-sustaining.
This command is symbolic of the task of every Jew, each of whom is likened to a menora, whose function is to illuminate the world around him. A menora consists of two parts – the candles or flasks of oil which are actually lit, and the base into which they are placed. The Jew is also made up of two such components – the holy Jewish soul, and the physical body the soul inhabits. The Torah states, “The soul of man is the candle of G-d.” The corporeal body is only the vessel from which the Jewish soul may shine forth to illuminate the physical world.
Just as Aaron kindled the lamps in the Holy Temple, so does G-d light the Jewish spark within every Jew. G-d sends the soul down into this world and ignites it, giving it the power to illuminate and to sustain itself.
Yet G-d does not want man to rely solely on the Divine boost he gets from above. The world was created imperfect, for man to perfect through his actions. G-d grants us free will to utilize our talents and abilities to this end. The service of the Jew is to imbue his surroundings with holiness and G-dliness through the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot (commandments).
But how can we claim that our actions are performed of our own initiative, when the initial “spark” is “activated” by G-d? This problem is resolved by the Talmudic dictum which states that “assistance has no substance.” Although G-d “assists” the individual by animating the inert, physical body with a G-dly soul, this in no way bestows an advantage when it comes to the moral choices a person must make. Man’s job is to bridge the distance between the spiritual aid he receives from above, and the lowly physical world. This is done by converting that G-dly energy into concrete, positive deeds.
G-d created the world in such a way that only man, through his actions, can uncover the spirituality hidden within. G-d lights the menora in every Jew to enable him to bring holiness into his own personal life and to positively influence his surroundings, until those sparks are also self-sustaining. This process will ultimately reach its culmination with the coming of Moshiach and the final Redemption, speedily in our days. Moshiach NOW!!!