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MAKE A DIFFERENCE

by Rabbi Norman Schloss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

In this week's Torah portion we learn about the menorah that was placed inside the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and later in history in the Beit Hamikdash (Temple). We learn how it was made and also of the different mitzvot that were entailed in the lighting and maintenance of the menorah.

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In this week's Torah portion we learn about the menorah that was placed inside the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and later in history in the Beit Hamikdash (Temple). We learn how it was made and also of the different mitzvot that were entailed in the lighting and maintenance of the menorah. One of the jobs of the Kohanim (priests) was to light the menorah each and every day. In fact, later on in the book of Numbers we are taught about how meticulous Aaron was in performing this mitzvah day after day and that every time Aaron performed the mitzvah he did it as if that same day Hashem had commanded him anew.

On this matter, Rabbi Avrohom Mordechai Alter of Gur (1866-1948) asked Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik of Brisk (1853-1918) the following query: The Midrash states that the menorah would be lit for Rosh Hashanah and would stay lit until the following Rosh Hashanah. From this week's Torah portion, we know that there was a commandment to light the menorah every day. How could this be accomplished if, according to the Midrash, the menorah was never extinguished?

Quoting the Rambam, one of the leading Torah scholars of the Middle Ages, Rabbi Soloveichik answered as follows: "One who adds oil to an existing light on Shabbat is culpable for transgressing making a fire on Shabbat." We see from this that one can fulfill an obligation of lighting simply by adding a little oil to an already existing flame. This is what they must have done in the Beit Hamikdash as well. Every day a little oil was added to the already burning light and it was considered as if a new lighting was performed each day.

We can derive a very important lesson from this. We all know how important it is to perform mitzvot, to study Torah, to give charity. Many times we feel inadequate and feel that these mitzvot are already being done by others. What can my small contribution accomplish? The answer, according to Rabbi Soloveichik, is obvious. Each and every contribution to charity and involvement with Torah study is considered an integral part of the entire mitzvah. Therefore, every component, no matter how small, is needed. One person, learning one Mishnah at home in the evening, contributes to the already ongoing body of Torah study that goes on in the world. Not only that, but each contributor receives the reward as if they alone had performed the mitzvah. One little deed, one little coin, one little Mishnah can make a world of difference.

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Rabbi Norman Schloss writes from Atlanta.

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