Tetsavveh: Lighten up!

In this week’s Torah portion, Tetsavveh, G-d instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to bring him clear oil of beaten olives for the lighting the lamps of Tent of Meeting.   

Why olive oil, specifically?

The Midrash uses a parable to explain this.  All but one of a king’s legions rebelled against him.  The king said that in recognition of this legion’s fidelity, he would, in the future, choose his rulers and governors only from it.  The Midrash goes on to explain that G-d said, “The olive brought light to the world in the time of Noah, when the dove returned with an olive branch in its mouth.”   

What do we learn from this?  The Radal, Horav David Luria, z”l, explained that the corruption preceding the Flood did not only affect man.  Even the plant and animal kingdoms were involved.  Various animal species tried to interbreed; plants attempted to intergraft.  Only the olive branch resisted all forms of grafting.  Thus, it is analogous to the one legion that did not rebel against the king.  

Because it remained faithful to G-d, the olive branch merited to be the sign of rebirth, the symbol of rejuvenation and of renewal after the destruction of the Flood. Subsequently, the olive became the source of illumination in the holiest place in the world, and the source of light and symbol of hope for generations to come.   

[The preceding was adapted from Rabbi A.L. Scheinbaum, Peninim Al Hatorah, 18th Series.] 

According to Jewish tradition, our souls are pure and full of light. More than that, they are “G-d’s lamp.” (Proverbs 20:27).  Or, perhaps we might even say that, “G-d is our soulmate.”  

No matter what improper actions we may have taken or thoughts we may have contemplated, these never contaminate our soul.  It is therefore never too late to resolve anew, or perhaps for the first time, that we should henceforth seek to live our lives in accordance with the dictates of our soul.   We are not bodies with souls; we are souls! 

May your Shabbat be illuminated by your internal light!   

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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3