Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Tetzaveh - 5774

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Tetzaveh, the second portion that continues the instructions on collecting various items for the construction of the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary, that would be used as the people journey towards the Promised Land. It begins with this verse:

"And you shall command the people of Israel, that they bring you pure beaten olive oil for the light, for the lamp to burn always." (Exodus 27:20)

The last two words in this verse - NER TAMID (to burn always) - are well know in our time as the NER TAMID (Eternal Light) that hangs by the Holy Ark in every synagogue and is supposed to be on at all times.

The Midrash explains that the people of Israel is compared to the olive which gives us oil which gives us light. Without Torah, Israel is in darkness. Torah illuminates our way as a people of the book.

Notice that the oil comes from ‘pure beaten oil’. It takes some work - in fact only the first drop was to be used for the lighting of the Menorah, indicating its purity. The same can be applied to each and everyone of us. We need the study of Torah to teach us the right way, a guiding light for our life. If we approach it with a pure heart, Torah will become for us also 'Orah' - light. In this very confused and complicated world in which we live, we need the Torah to guide us in making the right decisions.

Another lesson from the ‘beaten oil’ is not to give up, even when we are ‘beaten’ from the various obstacles that we encounter in life. The purpose of donating this oil is "Leha-alot NER TAMID" - "to raise the constant light".

Look for the good things and the hope that will chase the darkness from our life. May your life be filled with hope and brightness.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram