Friday, June 10, 2011

BeHa'aloscha 5636 First Ma'amar

"דבר אל אהרן ואמרת אליו בהעלותך את הנרות את מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעת הנרות: ויעש כן אהרן .../Speak to Aharon and say to him, 'When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the Menorah.  Aharon did so …" (Bamdibar 8:2,3)

·         How do the lamps cast their light toward the face of the Menorah?  If the Menorah is the central stem and the wicks of the protruding arms are placed so that they are facing the center of the Menorah in order to "cast their light towards the Menorah", then only six lamps are casting their light towards the center.  The seventh lamp is in the center.

·         Chazal[1] teach us that the Torah makes a point of telling us that Aharon did as instructed in order to praise him?  What sort of praise is this?  Would we have assumed otherwise?

In order to explain this pasuk the Midrash[2] relates an allegory of a king who asks his friend to prepare for him a meal.  The friend prepares the meal and lodging for the king using his own plain vessels.  When the king comes in all his majesty, the friend is embarrassed and hides his vessels.  The king, realizing his friend's plight, tells his entourage to hide his own kingly accoutrements and insists on being served with his friends simple vessels.

From the Midrash it is clear that ideally, the king's friend should not have been embarrassed and should not have put away what he had prepared.  Because of the friend's actions the king felt forced to play down his majesty to accommodate his friend.  Why should the king diminish his own honor because his friend is uncomfortable?

The Midrash is teaching us that God conceal Himself because if he were revealed, we would be embarrassed by the puniness of our efforts to do His will, to please Him.  However, the righteous understand that we cannot compete with God and that God wants our efforts however puny.  God reveals Himself to the righteous because He knows that this will not have a negative effect on their service to Him.

When Aharon lit the Menorah in the Mishkan, its seven lamps cast light upon the parallel spiritual Menorah which was revealed to Aharon in all its glory.  Aharon experienced a Godly revelation but in his righteousness was not deterred by the inadequacy of his own deed.  This truly is worthy of praise.  In fact, Chazal[3] explain the pasuk, "והתהלכתי בתוככם .../I will walk among you …" (VaYikra 26:12) as referring to the righteous walking with God in Gan Eden and not trembling.  The do not tremble not because the do not fear God.  Rather, they do not tremble because they understand that there is no need to be embarrassed and distance oneself from God.

In this way the righteous will be similar to the angels as we find, "... ונתתי לך מהלכים בין העומדים האלה/… then I will grant that you make strides among the angels who stand here." (Zecharia 3:7)  The angels are able to stand and serve God even though their service relating to God, from God's infinite perspective, is just as inadequate as ours and even though they have a much deeper understanding of God's greatness than we do.  May we merit it!

[1] Sifri Beha'aloscha 9
[2] Bamidbar R. 15:8
[3] Sifra Bechukosai 1:3

1 comment:

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