weekly Torah reading: parasha Tetzaveh 5783
“And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure olive oil, beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.” – Exodus 27:20, JPS 1917 Tanach
The seven-branched menorah in the Mishkan was the only source of light inside of this sacred structure. The lamps were lit by the kohein, and gave off their light, within the Kadosh – the larger portion of the Mishkan, where the menorah, showbread table and incense mizbeach rested. “The spirit of man is the lamp of the L-RD” (Proverbs 20:27, JPS). In like manner that the menorah gave off the light, within the confines of the Kadosh, so, too, dose G-d illuminate our soul.
Yet, if we tread upon the demarcations of moral integrity, as prescribed by His commandments, then we bring darkness upon ourselves, as our sins separate us from G-d (Isaiah 59:2).
Viktor Frankl, the eminent psychological thinker and psychiatrist, who survived Auschwitz, proffers that man’s conscience is directly linked to G-d. This teaching reflects the wisdom of the above-mentioned proverb, connecting man’s spirit to G-d. Thus, in its undiluted state, the spirit may is in alignment with the conscience.
Taking this a step further, when in accord with G-d’s will, light will animate the soul; yet, when we do not adhere to our conscience, we darken our moral understanding. The conscience is weakened – G-d forbid – in this manner, yet, strengthened when we remain in our integrity, according to the standards set by H’Shem. This is akin to “flexing our spiritual muscles.” If we falter, we may seek to return to G-d, by making a greater effort through teshuvah (repentance).
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