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Shabbat Parashat B'Haalotcha| 5770

Parashat Hashavuah: Unified to Spread an Ancient Pure Light

Harav Shaul Yisraeli z.t.l., based on Siach Shaul, pp. 371-3

The menorah (candelabrum), whose brief description opens our parasha, is a sign of a major principle in our religious philosophy. We believe that there is not an absolute break between the existence of kodesh (sacred) and chol (mundane). If something had no element of kedusha in it, it would not be able to exist. The Jewish People are not supposed to ignore daily needs. In fact, a nazir is considered a sinner because he deprived himself of the pleasure of wine. Such a step is proper only when the correct balance has been lost.

The Torah (Bamidbar 8:2) says the seven lamps of the menorah gave light opposite the face of the menorah. Commentators explain that the seven lights hint at the seven types of wisdom in the world. They all have value, as long as they give light toward the face of the menorah - in other words, they have to be united by use as testament that Hashem’s Presence rests upon Israel (see Shabbat 22b).

There is another condition for the validity of the menorah: “its knobs and flowers shall come from it” (Shemot 25:31). Judaism is not like Greek philosophy, which Rabbi Yehuda Halevi described as flowers without knobs. Rather both the content and the exterior flourishes must emanate from the basic content. Interest in aesthetics, in ethics, and in the sciences should stem from a sort of unified whole.

“From its legs to its flowers it shall be one whole piece” (Bamidbar 8:4). The early generations, upon whom our traditions stand, serve as the basis for our development, behavior, and outlook. Certainly, the way we lead our lives is very different from ancient times. However, we must not look at our generation as one that came from nowhere. Those who taught the generation of sabras (Jews born in Israel) thought that they were the new beginning of Jewish history. However, they are now regretting the bitter fruits that their theses developed. “Look at the rock from which you were hewn … look at Avraham your father and Sarah who begot you” (Yeshaya 51:1-2). We have deep roots in the past. We have an old “trunk,” and we are a direct continuation of them.

The work before us is to bring success to actuality, as it is insufficient to make pronouncements. This is the content of our prayer: “He should open our hearts in His Torah and place in our hearts love and fear of Him.” There is a need to open the heart, for if it is closed, nothing will get in. When we learn, we soften the heart, and then love and fear can penetrate. Love is to make the Name of Hashem loved in the world by our pleasant actions (Yoma 86a). If that was ever necessary, it is certainly so now. Fear comes about by learning much Torah.


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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of

R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


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