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by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

The week's reading begins with the Commandment to light the Menorah in the Tabernacle. And as my teacher Rabbi Asher Z. Rubenstein pointed out, G-d doesn't need our candles. He doesn't need our light. There is no darkness before G-d.

In a house, the narrowest part of a window is on the outside - this is even true today. This method of construction allows maximal light to enter the house through the window. Yet the Holy Temple was constructed with just the opposite design - to allow the internal light of the Temple to radiate outwards.

So G-d doesn't need our light - what He wants is for Israel to be engaged in the act of lighting. Yet, what does this symbolize?

The answer may be found in Proverbs (20:27): "The light of HaShem is the soul of man." [Ner HaShem Nishmas Adam.] Again, G-d does not need our light, but He offers us the opportunity to radiate light. And we are to be involved with the lighting.

This applies, said Rav Rubenstein, not only to ourselves. If we find a "candle" which isn't burning, it is our obligation to light it. If we find a Jewish soul which is not shining, we cannot leave it dim.

Torah enlightens the mind and gives joy to the heart. A person may be "dim" because he or she is unhappy, or simply lacking the shine of Jewish spiritual life. One way or the other, we must participate in sharing light. One candle can light thousands of others - if it is, itself, burning brightly.

There is no question - here too, G-d does not "need" our help. He alone can light the lights. But He wants us to be involved in the lighting. We - every one of us - has the opportunity to share, and to grow brighter along with others. G-d gives us not merely a place under the lights - He gives us the opportunity to radiate on our own, and to help others to shine as well.

Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.



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