Drash on Parashat Beha'alotcha 2019
Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff
Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra, NS
Lighting up the Soul
Our Torah reading begins with “When you ascend to light the menorah…”. The menorah .
Symbolically, the seven lights of the menorah are seen as seven middot aspects of the soul that we need to foster on an ongoing basis:
Lighting the menorah is symbolic of shinning the light of our mindful awareness on the quality of our actions in light of these seven qualities.
Since we live in community, part of our work is also to light up the soul of others, and to allow others to light our soul. The words of Torah: “When you raise the lamps” – is an invitation to think about how a lamp is lit – a flame from one lamp is held to an unlit wick. Once the initial kindling happens, it’s best to let the original flame be close to the new one for a while just to make sure the other one is going to remain lit. Similarly, when we “light someone up” it’s good to a while, not leave in a rush.
When Aharon lit the menorah, the flames shone towards the centre of the menorah, symbolically meaning that once the flames/qualities of our soul are lit, there is work to do, to keep the light shining towards the “essential good”.
One of the most moving parts of the Torah, is Moshe’s expression of anguish, when the Children of Israel complain to him about the difficult conditions in the wilderness. As their leader, he feels the heaviness of this responsibility and in great torment says these words to God, “Did I conceive this people or bear them that You say to me: Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a suckling… I cannot alone carry this people for they are too heavy for me".
We are invited to reflect on times in our life when we have felt difficulty bearing what life has meted out for us...
God then instructs Moshe to pass on some of his responsibility to 70 elders; to share some of his ruach-spirit with them. Once this is done the elders begin to prophecy and Joshua is disturbed by this, however Moshe reassures him that he is not threatened by this, he welcomes it to the point where he says:
“If only every person was at the level of prophecy”.
Some Hasidic sages state that Moshe’s statement points to the innate potential of every person to be a prophet in the broader sense – to be in touch with the essence of all, to be connected to high states of inspiration and bring them down into a practical level of application.
This Shabbat may we bring light to the seven aspects of our soul, and the soul of others, may we be aware when we need to reach out for help and may we open to inspiration that awaits us,