Parasha of the week
The Torah reading begins with the command to bring oil for the Menorah, the candelabra lit in the Sanctuary, and subsequently in the Temple. The Jews were directed to bring pure oil to Moses so those lamps could be kindled.
Our Rabbis ask: Aaron, the priest, kindled the Menorah. Why then was the oil brought to Moses?
They explain that the oil represents the quintessential spiritual potential that every Jew possesses within his soul. But oil must be lit. It is not enough to possess a spiritual potential, we must do whatever is necessary to make sure this spiritual potential is activated and shines.
This is why the connection to Moses is so important. Moses was not merely a leader who taught the Jewish people and imparted knowledge to them. Moses “spoke to G-d face to face.” For him, G-dliness was as actual a factor as ordinary material existence is to us.
And when people established a connection with Moses, G-dliness became a cogently real factor in their lives as well. Because Moses’s inner spiritual potential was overtly revealed, being in contact with Moses empowered and enabled every person to reveal his own spiritual potential.
This is not merely a story of the past. In every generation there are Jewish leaders who serve as Moses, whose lives serve as beacons to inspire others to awaken their inner spiritual potential. When people come into contact with such an individual, they cannot remain unmoved; the oil within their souls is kindled and begins to glow.
"To ask is to believe that somewhere there is an answer...we ask not because we doubt but because we believe"
- Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt"l