פ’ בהעלותך תשע”ח
Volume 24, Issue 4
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
בהעלתך את הנרת
“When you raise (light) the lamps…” (8:2)
In all Torah references to the menorah, the verb used for lighting is להעלות. Obviously, the concept is that the flame rises up, so it is viewed as “raising” a flame. In fact, not once does the Torah use the word commonly used today for lighting a flame, להדליק.
Quoting Chazal, Rashi states that this verb implies that the one who kindles should do so carefully until “the flame rises by itself.” In this verse, many see a hint about the way we must train our children. The flame symbolizes the fire of Torah and Judaism, and the act of lighting is the act of transmitting to the next generation. The father must see to it that his children are taught to such an advanced level that they can continue and proceed on their own to grow spiritually. Education is successful when we can see that “the flame” continues to rise on its own and our children continue to progress. (Great Torah Lights)
וזה מעשה המנורה
“This is the workmanship of the Menorah…” (8:4)
The menorah was all of one piece. So too, Israel, the bearer for light in the world, is made up of a single piece without any external additions. Israel is an entity, all of one piece. The nation is the sum of all of its individuals which taken together form the national character.
Following the mystical traditions of kaballah, the seven branches of the Menorah symbolize the seven factors that are the source of inspiration for that character: chessed – love; din – justice; tiferet – harmony; netzach – continuity; hod – form; yesod – organic life; and malchut – kingship. When these seven qualities work in perfect unity, the menorah, made all of one piece, shines forth in a dazzling brightness. (Likutei Sichot)
בחדש השני בארבעה עשר יום…יעשו אתו
“He must offer up (the Passover sacrifice) in the afternoon on the 14th day of the second month…” (9:11)
The lesson of the second Passover is that it is never too late to set things right. Even if one Is spiritually sullied or has wandered far from the realm of holiness, G-d still gives him a fresh opportunity to rewrite the past and to right all wrongs. (Lubavitcher Rebbe)
ויהי בנסע הארון…שובה ה’ רבבות אלפי ישראל
“And it came to pass when the Ark set forward…Return, O G-d, to the myriad of thousands of Israel…” (10:35-36)
QUESTION: Why are there nunin hafukin – inverted “nuns” – setting off the two verses of “vayehi binso’a”?
ANSWER: In Aramaic the word “nun” means fish (see Onkelos 11:5). The life of a fish depends in large measure on its ability to swim upstream. If it permits itself to be swept along by the current of the rapids or the tide, it will be scuttled and squashed. It is only because Hashem has endowed the fish with the precious instinct of self-preservation, whereby it is able to swim upstream against the current, that it can survive and increase.
Jews have been compared to fish. Our forefather Yaakov blessed his children that
“vegidgu larov bekerev ha’aretz” – “and may they increase abundantly like fish in the midst of the earth”. His intent was that just as fish swim against the tide, so to his children should swim upstream and resist the temptation to take the easy way by going with the tide of fads and crazes which lead to the dissolution of our teachings and the scuttling of our people.
The message of the nunin hafukin – “inverted nuns” – in connection with “vayehi binso’a ha’aron” is that to travel with the holy Ark a Jew must be ready to go against the tide and proudly stand resolute in his convictions. (HaRav Dov Aryeh Berzon z”l)
והאיש משה ענו מאד מכל האדם אשר על פי האדמה
“Moshe was exceedingly humble, more so than any other person on earth…” (12:3)
Humility is not the result of underestimating one’s true worth. Moshe understood very well that he was an extraordinary individual, who had been chosen by G-d to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt and to receive the Torah on their behalf. However, Moshe also thought that had G-d given his lofty traits to someone else, that person would have been able to reach an even higher level than he had attained.
Humility is often misunderstood as simply the lack of boastfulness: We are “humble” if we feel superior to others as long as we don’t boast about it! True humility, however, is learned from Moshe. We should be fully aware of whatever greatness we possess, but attribute it to G-d rather than to ourselves. This allows us to respect other people and see them in a positive light, inasmuch as G-d blessed them with their own unique qualities. (Likutei Sichot)
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