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Please include Israel's captive soldiers in your tefillot: Zecharia Shlomo ben Miriam Baumel, Tzvi ben Penina Feldman, Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sarah Katz, Ron ben Batya Arad, Guy ben Rina Chever.



Wednesday,  Chag Shavuot , 6 Sivan 5774- June 4, 2014             


            Parashat Behaalotekha begins with the mitzva of the kindling of the menorah, which the Torah refers to with the term �be-ha�alotekha,� a term that literally denotes �raising� or �elevating.�  Rashi offers two explanations for why the kindling of the menorah is described with this term.  First, he suggests that flames appear to rise upward, and thus kindling may be described as creating a flame which rises.  Additionally, Rashi cites Chazal�s inference from this term that there was a step in front of the menorah upon which the kohen would stand when kindling the lamps.  The phrase, �be-ha�alotekha et ha-neirot� thus refers to the �rising� of the kohen as he prepares to light the menorah. 

            Rabbi Simon Dolgin noted the profound symbolic significance underlying this halakha.  When we try to �kindle� the light of Torah, faith and spirituality, we must �raise� ourselves in the process.  Occasionally, people work to bring �light,� involving themselves in valuable and worthy endeavors, and feel that this light absolves them of the need to grow in their own level of ethical behavior and devotion to Torah.  In some cases, they decide to engage in these valuable endeavors specifically to earn an �exemption� from ethic and religious responsibilities.  The Torah teaches us that we cannot kindle light for others while we remain on the ground.  If we are trying to contribute to the �light� of Torah and the dissemination of its message, we must be stepping up off the ground and reaching higher.  As Rabbi Dolgin writes:

            There are many wonderful people who kindle lights in society, but they do not elevate themselves in the process. Many build religious institutions, yet this is no barometer of increased religious living. People kindle the lights, not for themselves. On the contrary, sometimes their care for the menorah becomes a compensation for their continuing guilt of dark practices. 

            When a man adds to the light of Kashrut observance by seeking glatt Kosher, but persists in usurious money lending, he has not risen a step upward to reflect in the pious light. When people promote Yeshivos and remain in a morass of petty politics at the expense of these sacred institutions, they have not ascended the m'alah [step] as they kindled their light.

            We must seek increased religious performance and increased religious being, we must ourselves step up as we prompt the flame of light to rise. 

            Kindling the flame for others does not suffice; we must also be making a personal effort to raise our own standards and ensure we are worthy of shining the light of Torah and Godliness.


Rav David Silverberg     



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(c) 2014 Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash, Yeshivat Har Etzion.











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