Blog Tetzaveh  11 Adar 1 5779 בלוג תצוה, י׳׳א אדר א׳ תשע׳ט

These few portions from Mishpatim to Vayachel demonstrate the great love that the Creator has for His people. They serve to envelope the incident of the sin of the golden calf. Our sages blame the “erev rav” for their bad influence upon the people of Israel. The Creator would teach us through the Mishkan, the place where the people would come to meet with Him. Moshe had them build the menorah which would bring the light inside the Tent of Meeting. The priesthood through Aaron would be developed here showing us that the Torah is more pedagogical than chronological.

Why was it important that Aaron be brought into the picture? We see throughout the world today that there are many dictatorships which cause great suffering among the people. It is obvious that power corrupts. There needs to be a balance of power. Moshe would be the administrator and Aaron would be the head of a type of judicial system that would teach moral and ethical behavior. The people would be like the congress. This was all meant to avoid corruption in Israel.

The purpose of the menorah was to show us that we all need to be transparent. It was to be built in a very intricate way with a very specific type of oil – totally pure virgin oil so that it would burn cleanly, otherwise the smoke produced would make it impossible to remain inside the tent. In this we see practicality combined with the spiritual. Each of us represents a candle which needs to be lit in order to be “ohr l’goyim” – light to the nations. If our light is contaminated with dirty oil, we cannot represent the One who lights us, the Boreh Olam. The vestment of the priests shows us that it matters how we present ourselves to the world; we always need to be our best.

Biblical Judaism teaches us that there is no perfection in us therefore we need to constantly examine ourselves for checks and balances. It is important that we be open and transparent so that those around us can keep us accountable for our behavior. No one has the capability to see their own issues; we are often blind to them. When our light produces smoke, we are usually the last ones to see it. For example, when a person lives in an environment where no one ever washes themselves, they get used to the smell. When someone from the outside tells them, they then have a choice about whether to change the situation or not.

The Creator wants us to produce a pure light which becomes a constant struggle for us. We need to consistently check ourselves after which He gives us the opportunity to return to Him as He did with Israel as He enveloped them in spite of their great sin with the golden calf. He is the “God of beginning again.” We begin by working on ourselves, after which we can work on others. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Another factor about the light is that it also destroys darkness. When you bring a small candle into a dark room, the entire room lights up. Sometimes we wonder why certain people don’t like us. It is usually that they don’t like what we represent because our mere presence reveals the darkness within them. Don’t take that as personal rejection. Our Rabbi Yeshua spoke to us about our light, that we needed to show ourselves as we are, that we allow others to see our faults so that we might be aware of them, and this would afford us the opportunity to improve. He told us not to point our finger at others but to examine ourselves first. Other religions teach that we need to be perfect in order to be in the presence of God. That’s why they had to create something or someone to cover our sins so that we can be allowed into His presence. The Creator however told us to present ourselves to Him as we are. We acknowledge who we are, make it right and we can, in this way be transformed into clean light. On the other hand, when we hide something, it creates a smokescreen. We don’t need to impress anyone about how good we are. Most of us prefer form to content, the gift wrap to the gift!

Do you notice that it was only the priests who would wear the special vestments not the Levites? A uniform represents authority. For example, when we see a policeman, we are on our best behavior. The Cohanim were to bring order and direction, to help us focus and be obedient. Today, we represent the Levites and the rest of Israel who were to be servants and to be light to the world.

In this portion, the Creator presents to us light and the Cohanim, the Priesthood. He is telling us that there will now be order. We can’t do whatever we want; we need to respect others. That’s what the Ten Commandments teach us. We need to be kind with ourselves and with others. Most of us prefer to be slaves rather than to be free. We prefer to be told what to do rather than to be responsible so that we can blame others for our actions. The Creator gave us brains to think.

How much light do you produce? The closer to the Creator you are, the less you think of yourself and the less you try to impress others. Is your light from your own ego or from the Creator? One is unclean causing smoke and the other is clean. The Creator told Moshe and Aaron to light the “ner tamid”, the eternal flame. We see that in every synagogue around the world. It is my prayer that we shine our light in the world so that others can see the relationship we have with our Creator and want it for themselves.