The weekly Parsha – Parshas Beha’alotcha

This week’s Torah portion, Beha’alotcha, opens with the words “When you light the lamps.”

Aaron the kohen (priest) was commanded to kindle the menorah in the Sanctuary every day. The menora was required to burn at all times, as the Torah states, “To cause a light to burn perpetually.”

Just as Aaron lit the menorah in the Sanctuary, so is every Jew required to illuminate his home and surroundings with the Torah’s holy light.

Aaron was a kohen, but so too is every member of the Jewish people, as it is written, “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests.” The giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai transformed every Jew into a “kohen.”

The menorah stood in the Sanctuary (and later in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem). Similarly, every Jewish home is a “Sanctuary” to G-d. The verse “I shall dwell in their midst” means that G-d dwells within each and every Jew; hence, every Jewish home is an abode for the Divine Presence.

The light that Aaron kindled was “perpetual”; so too must the light in every Jewish home be always shining. The Torah’s light of holiness must burn night and day, and pervade all corners of a Jewish residence.

All Jews, and especially Jewish children, have the power to imbue their homes with holiness. How is this accomplished? By expressing an awareness of G-d every moment of the day.

As soon as a Jew opens his eyes in the morning he says “Modeh Ani” (“I give thanks to You”); whenever he eats he recites the proper blessings both before and after. Throughout the day he conducts himself according to the Torah’s laws, and at night he says the “Shema” (“Hear O Israel”) before going to sleep.

The Torah and its mitzvot (commandments) are likened to light: “A mitzvah is a candle, and the Torah is light.” Indeed, the Torah and its commandments are the medium through which the Jew is able to illuminate the “Sanctuary” in his home.

Lighting the menora is also associated with the Final Redemption with Moshiach:

The menora that stood in the Sanctuary and the Holy Temple was composed of seven lights, as it states, “The seven lamps shall give light.”

When Moshiach comes, the Jews who are dispersed around the world will return to Israel in seven paths, as is written in the Book of Isaiah, “And [G-d] shall wave His hand upon the river…and smite it into seven streams.”

Thus, disseminating the light of Torah and mitzvot in our own homes serves to hasten Moshiach’s coming with the Final Redemption, may it happen at once.