Our parashah opens with the mitzvah to light the menorah, the lamp that illuminates God’s tent, pitched in the middle of the camp of the Israelites. We read in Be-Midbar 8:2: “Speak to Aharon and say to him: when you ignite the lamps, the seven lamps should shine facing the [center of the] menorah.” This is strange indeed – usually lights are arranged to provide illumination for the room in which they’re located, but here the menorah itself is illuminated rather than the rest of the room. Explaining why each of the six branches of the menorah need to be inclined toward the center lamp, Rashi insists that this is the case “so that they would not say that God needs light”/she-lo yomru le-orah hu tzarikh. In other words, God does not need any external source of illumination…because He is the light of the world! One of my favorite lines in the siddur is said right after wrapping oneself in a tallit: “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light, we see light.” (Psalms 36:9). If we open our hearts and our eyes to God’s presence in the world, we are able to see the world anew, illuminated by radiant sparks of the Divine. Quite an opening to the Torah portion!
This Shabbat we welcome Dr. Steve Whiteside as our main speaker and teacher. He comes to us as representative of Jewish Addiction Community Services (JACS), and will speak about his experience with addiction and how he navigated in the Jewish community as a young person and adult. Steve’s remarks will be followed by some information about JACS by our own Howard Harowitz.
We will continue our summer learning of Pirkei Avot immediately after Kiddush lunch. All are invited to join our study of the ancient sages from the Land of Israel, who offer some of the deepest and most profound ethical teachings in our tradition.