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What Is the Meaning of Lighting the Menorah in the Work?
Article No. 30, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet, 1988/89
Concerning the verse “When you raise the candles,” RASHI interprets—after the rising of the heart. It is written, “when they are lit up,” implying ascent, that they must be lit until the flame rises by itself.
“The seven candles will shine before the front of the menorah [lampstand].” There are many interpretations to “the front of the menorah.” Literally, it means that all seven candles will shine before the front of the lamp. Thus, who is the front of the menorah? We should understand the whole matter of the menorah in the work.
It is written, “A candle is a Mitzva [commandment/good deed] and the Torah [law/teaching] is light.” This means that through the Torah, we light the candle. Also, “The Lord’s candle is man’s soul.” We see that in corporeality, we need to light a light so it will shine only in a place of darkness, as it is written, “as the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” This means that “there is no light without a Kli [vessel],” and a Kli is a lack and a need. This means that a Kli is not something that is empty without anything in there. This is not regarded as a lack. Rather, a Kli that is fit to receive filling must have a lack for the filling. That is, anything that a person wants to receive is in order to enjoy receiving it.
Otherwise, although he may receive something without a lack, enjoying it depends on the measure of the yearning for what he lacks. Thus, the yearning determines the measure of the pleasure. Therefore, in order to enjoy the light so it will shine, a person must provide for it a lack and yearning for the light. This cannot be achieved without a need. In order to provide a need, the only way is to think about the purpose of creation, meaning why the Creator created creatures, and what should the creatures do in order to satisfy the Creator’s will.
In other words, once a person believes in the purpose of creation, that it is to do good to His creations, when a person calculates and wants to see how much delight and pleasure he feels all day, for which he should thank the Creator for receiving from Him only delight and pleasure so he can say, “Blessed is He who said, ‘Let there be the world,’” since he enjoys the world so much, at that time he begins to see that all his days are few and bad. Sometimes, his life is meaningless, and instead of saying, “Blessed is He who said, ‘Let there be the world,’” a person says, “Better not created than created.”
When a person believes in the purpose of creation, which is to do good, he begins to contemplate the reason that he does not see the delight and pleasure revealed to all. When he wants to know the reason for the concealment hiding on the delight and pleasure, he must also believe in the sages who said that there was a correction on the purpose of creation.
That is, in order for the purpose of creation to be complete, without shame, it is known that by nature, every branch wants to resemble its root. Hence, as the Creator gives, likewise, when a person must receive for himself, he feels unpleasantness. To correct this, there was the Tzimtzum [restriction], concealment, and hiding, so as to give room for choice. That is, through the concealment and hiding there is room for work, if a person wants to work in order to bestow. In other words, there is room for work so that after his work he will be able to receive in order to bestow, which is called “equivalence of form.”
Conversely, if the delight and pleasure clothed in Torah and Mitzvot [plural of Mitzva] were revealed, as it is written in The Zohar that there are 613 counsels during the period of concealment and hiding, where by observing the Torah and Mitzvot as counsels we are then rewarded with 613 deposits. It is written in the Sulam [commentary on The Zohar] that it means that afterward, after the completion of the process of 613 counsels, we are rewarded with 613 deposits, which are 613 lights deposited in the 613 Mitzvot. Only then does what exists within the Torah and Mitzvot become revealed. These are called “holy names,” which are details that reveal the general name of the Creator, who is called The Good Who Does Good. In the words of The Zohar, this is called “The Torah and the Creator and Israel are one.”
Accordingly, we can understand man’s work, meaning what man must do in order to carry out the Creator’s purpose of creation for the creatures to receive delight and pleasure and for the Tzimtzum and concealment to depart. There is only one thing, and it is called Dvekut [adhesion], “equivalence of form.” This is all the correction that the created beings should do, since all the bad in us disrupts us from receiving the delight and pleasure because of the disparity of form, called “separation.” This is what we must correct, and then everything will fall into place.
However, since the nature we are born with is a desire to receive for ourselves, and not to bestow, when a person wants to walk on the path of the work to achieve the truth, meaning that a person wants to acquire a desire to bestow contentment upon the Creator and not for his own sake, the body begins to resist with all its might.
A person says to his body, “Know that by wanting to exist in the world for your own sake, without caring for anything else in the world, where your only concern in everything you do is how much the will to receive will gain from performing acts of bestowal, and without even wanting to think about the benefit of the Creator, by this you obstruct the purpose of creation, which is that the Creator wants to give to the created beings delight and pleasure. You are the obstruction, and I cannot revoke your reason, but I believe in the words of our sages, who said that the Creator said, ‘I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.’ Therefore, I want to observe Torah and Mitzvot, by which I will be able to completely revoke you. I want to observe what our sages said, ‘The Torah exists only in one who puts himself to death over it.’ Therefore, I want to put you to death with the Segula [remedy/virtue] called Torah.”
Thus, he tells the body, “Leave me alone with your views, since I want to learn Torah so I can put you to death.” Naturally, at that time the body resists with all its might and follows the verse, “He who comes to kill you, kill him first.” For this reason, the evil inclination exerts with all its might to obstruct him from observing Torah and Mitzvot with this aim. Either it interferes with his actions, or disrupts him through foreign questions and thoughts that it brings him every time in order to disrupt his holy work.
As a result, those who want to walk on the path of truth and revoke the will to receive for themselves and do everything for the sake of the Creator go through ups and downs. This is not so with people who observe Torah and Mitzvot in order to receive reward. They do not have such descents because they are not going against nature, namely against the evil inclination. However, since “From Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], we come to Lishma [for Her sake],” at times, these people, too, experience descents.
But for people who want to revoke the evil inclination and this is why they engage in Torah and Mitzvot, this is a daily battle. That is, sometimes a person receives help from above, as it is written, “He who comes to purify is aided,” and thinks that now he is on top of it, meaning that now he will advance and climb the rungs of Kedusha [holiness]. But suddenly, he falls back down. Such is the procession of the war against the evil inclination, until he comes to a state where he is rewarded with permanent faith, which is called “rewarded with opening his eyes in the Torah.”
It is written about it (in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Item 98), “Every person can labor in the Torah until he finds the attainment of His open Providence. When one attains open Providence, the love extends to him by itself through the natural channels. And one who does not believe that he can attain this through his efforts, this must be because of disbelief in the words of our sages, ‘I labored and found.’ Instead, he imagines that the labor is not sufficient for every person.”
Accordingly, we should interpret the meaning of the menorah in the work, which RASHI interpreted that it is written “when you raise” after the rising of the flame. It is written, “When they are lit up,” as in ascent, that they must be lit until the flame rises by itself.
We should interpret that the purpose of creation, which is to do good to His creations, is the light, and the created beings are the Kelim [vessels] receiving the light. However, the Kelim must be made suitable. They must be clean so as not to spoil the light extended into them. Since, as we learned, the essence of the creature is the will to receive for oneself, as it emerged from Ein Sof [infinity/no end], that Kli, as it is, lacks correction.
In other words, although the Creator created the will to receive to desire and yearn to receive the delight and pleasure that He wants to give, the completeness of His works was still missing, namely, there was shame that the lower ones feel upon reception of the abundance. This is called “the correction of the Kelim.” That is, the bad, which is called “separation,” due to the disparity of form between the receiver and the giver, this bad, called “will to receive for oneself,” must be cleansed. When the Kli is cleansed from the will to receive for oneself, it will be fit to receive the abundance, called “delight and pleasure.” As in corporeality, a person will not pour wine into a vessel filthy with waste, since the waste spoils wine. Therefore, the vessel must first be cleaned, and then it can receive the drink, and not before.
This is what took place with the menorah. The amelioration of the candles, when the menorah would be cleaned from residue of oil and coal, and afterward the oil would be placed in them, implies to us that in the work, our bodies must be cleansed of the waste in them, which is the will to receive for oneself. Subsequently, the body can receive the light of Torah. But before the body is clean, it cannot contain the light of Torah.
However, it is very difficult to cleanse the body from the will to receive for oneself, so all his works will be only for the sake of the Creator, since it is against the body’s inherent nature. We were given Torah and Mitzvot, by which to cleanse the evil in it, so that the light of the Creator can be in it, as our sages said, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.” But at the same time, in itself, observing Torah and Mitzvot is not enough to be able to cleanse the will to receive; it requires prayer, as well.
Prayer means that he should know that the Torah and Mitzvot he is observing are not for the sake of the Creator but for the sake of the created being. This means that since he wants to purify his heart, as it is written, “Purify our hearts to serve You in truth,” it follows that through prayer, when a person prays for the purification of the heart, he will remember that the Torah and Mitzvot that a person observes is for man’s sake. At that time, he sees how the evil controls a person and he cannot emerge from its governance. In other words, by observing Torah and Mitzvot and praying, these bring him the purity of the heart.
But before a person begins to think about the purity of the heart, he thinks that everything is up to him. That is, he thinks that if he wants to do things only for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake, since he does not wish to use these desires, it is up to him. This is so because a person cannot appreciate the evil in man’s body. This becomes revealed gradually, according to man’s work. When he wants to revoke the evil in him, to that extent the evil within him is revealed until he comes to feel that unless the Creator helps him, he is doomed.
At that time, a person begins to ask, “Why did the Creator do this? That is, on one hand, He tells us we must make a choice, meaning loathe the evil, which is the will to receive for ourselves, and choose the good, namely the desire to bestow upon the Creator. But at the same time, I see that I cannot emerge from the governance of the will to receive for myself and work in order to bestow.”
The answer is that only when a person comes to a state where he says, “Salvation by man is in vain,” meaning that one cannot help himself and choose the good. In other words, when a person sees that this matter is difficult from every angle, then the help from above comes to him and the verse, “He who comes to purify is aided” comes true. That is, when a person comes to purify and begins to walk on the path of achieving bestowal and uprooting the evil from within him, he sees that it is out of his hands. At that time, the Kli is completed from man’s perspective, meaning the lack, when he becomes needy of the Creator to help him emerge from the control of the evil.
Prior to this, he thought that he could defeat the evil in him by himself. In that case, he would not need the Creator and would receive the purification of the body from the will to receive by his own strength. In that state, he had no importance for Dvekut with the Creator as it should be, and this was considered a flaw.
This is similar to a person who is given a vessel of gold and he considers it a vessel of copper. He thanks the person for it as one would thank a person for a vessel of copper. What sorrow that person would inflict upon the giver of the gift, although the giver does not need the gratitude that he would give in return for the gift. Rather, the giver’s sorrow is because the giver wants the receiver to have great pleasure. When the receiver feels great pleasure, this is the giver’s joy. It follows that when the receiver cannot appreciate the importance of the gift, the receiver is not delighted as the giver intended. Thus, the giver of the gift feels sorrow.
The lesson is that when the Creator gives something to a person, it is in order to enjoy it. Yet, a person cannot appreciate anything according to its importance, but according to how the receiver appreciates it. It is written about it, “As the advantage of the light from within the darkness,” meaning that the darkness is how a person feels the lack in him. According to the sensation of the lack, he will later be able to enjoy the light.
I once said that we can see about ourselves that thank God, we are walking on our legs. Certainly, we enjoy the fact that we can use our hands and legs. But where is our joy? We should be delighted that we have such important things that we can use, like hands and legs.
For example, if we were to walk into a hospital where there are paraplegics, one in the leg, one in the hand, or in both, and we would tell them that we have a cure that as soon as you take it you will be able to tend to yourselves, meaning you will be able to walk on your legs and use your hands. Can we imagine the joy that they would feel? We cannot even appreciate the true elation that they would feel.
It follows that all we need in order to be as happy as they are is darkness. That is, if we felt the darkness that they feel, we would be as happy as they are.
Now the question is, Should we really be happy that we can use our hands and legs, meaning that it is an important thing and we should thank the Creator for it and be happy about it?
Or, in fact, this is a small thing, not worthy of rejoicing over and saying, as we do, this is how it should be. That is, we are not obligated to be happy about it because we do not feel the importance of the matter. Or, perhaps, we should in fact thank the Creator for not being paraplegic, and rejoice over this?
However, we see that even if we introspect and thank the Creator, we cannot receive joy from this because as said above, the advantage of the light is from within the darkness. By this we can see why the matter of choice, choosing the good, namely the desire to bestow, and loathing the bad, is so difficult. It is because we must taste the taste of darkness.
However, we must not be shown the darkness as it truly is. If we saw the measure of bad within us, we would immediately escape from the work. Then we would not feel darkness because he does not mind that the will to receive for himself is the ruler as he does not feel this as darkness. Only one who labors and works as much as he can, and goes through ups and downs, can say that he tastes the taste of darkness because he cannot overcome his will to receive for himself.
Thus, the descents that a person receives when he wants to walk on the path of truth are instruments for the sensation of the help he will receive. We must believe the words of our sages who said, “He who comes to purify is aided.” A person must not escape the campaign when he sees that he is not making progress. Sometimes he gets thoughts of the spies, who said that this work is not for us and requires special people who can walk on the path of overcoming.
All this comes to him because he understands that each time, he must see how he is making progress. However, it does not occur to him that he must advance in obtaining darkness, that this is the only Kli he needs to acquire. A Kli is a need for a filling. That is, if he has no filling for the lack, he feels that he is in the dark. For this reason, a person must not say that he is not advancing in the work.
Hence, he wants to escape the campaign, for it is not the truth, since he sees each time how far he is from obtaining the light, meaning for the Creator to give him the Kli called “desire to bestow.” He cannot obtain the desire to bestow by himself, and then he comes to feel that the world has grown dark on him. At that time, the light comes, meaning help from above, as it is written, “He who comes to purify is aided.”
Accordingly, in the work, the menorah implies the body, that the body must be lit so as to shine, as it is written, “The Lord’s candle is man’s soul,” meaning that the body must obtain the soul. At that time, the name of the Creator is named after the person, as was said, “The Lord’s candle.”
When is the body regarded as the Lord’s candle? It is when we must light it so it will shine, which is when a person obtains the soul, meaning acquires the desire to bestow. This is regarded as a soul, as The Zohar says, “He who comes to purify is aided.” The Zohar asks, “How is he aided?” and it replies, “with a holy soul,” meaning that he is given from above a soul. At that time, the body is called “The Lord’s candle,” since the soul of the Creator is clothed in the body. That is, preceding the arrival of the assistance from above, the will to receive for himself was clothed in a body. Now the desire to bestow is clothed in the body.
However, until one obtains help from above, a person is in the dark. Each time he overcomes and lights up the menorah, meaning the body, so as to be in the form of “All your works will be for the sake of the Creator,” he experiences ups and downs. For this reason, the verse calls the lighting of the menorah, “When you raise the candles,” since the flame does not go up as soon as it is lit. That is, during the overcoming, he lights up the body and begins to do the holy work, but afterward he descends from this degree.
It follows that when a person lights the menorah, so the body will work in order to bring contentment to his Maker and have love of the Creator, “as cinders of fire is the Lord’s flame,” it stands to reason that when he overcomes and begins to walk on the path of doing everything in order to bestow, the fact that he received a descent in the middle of the work and fell once more into the vessels of reception, although afterward, he receives a desire and yearning to work in order to bestow once more, but again he falls from his degree.
This repeats itself until he sees that this is endless. Therefore, he says, “I see that there should have been progress in the work,” that this would be a sign that the work he is doing is for Him, meaning he will accomplish what he wants, meaning come to do everything for the sake of the Creator. Yet, he sees the opposite. Therefore, a person wants to say, “This thing, that I want to light the menorah, meaning the body, is not for me. Otherwise, I would not have such descents in the work.”
For this reason, the text tells us, “When you raise,” and not “when they are lit,” to tell us that everything that appears to our eyes when we engage in lighting the menorah, everything—all the states—are ascents. In other words, even the worst descents that we receive during the work belong to ascents, since the advantage of the light is from within the darkness.
This means that a person cannot say that this work to bestow is not for him, as he sees by his descents. The verse says about this, “When you raise the candles,” in order to tell us that everything is regarded as an ascent. Hence, one should not say that this is not for him but for more gifted people. In order to know more, that this is the order of the work of bestowal, the verse comes and says, “This was the workmanship of the menorah, hammered work.”
It is written in the Midrash [Beha’alotcha (When You Raise)]: “The workmanship of the menorah, how was it? When Moses went up, the Creator showed him on the mountain how He would make the tabernacle. When the Creator showed him the workmanship of the menorah, Moses was perplexed. The Creator said to him: ‘Behold, I do in front of you.’ Still, Moses was perplexed about it. He said, ‘The menorah will be made of hammered work,’ meaning it is very difficult to do. The Creator said to him, ‘Throw the gold into the fire and the menorah will be made by itself, as was said, ‘the workmanship of the menorah was hammered work.’”
RASHI interprets the verse, “This was the making of the menorah”: “It was done by itself by the Creator.” We should understand what it implies to us in the work that it was difficult to make the menorah. The menorah indicates the body, that the body must be lit so as to do the holy work, such as a menorah is lit up so it will work in corporeality.
However, this is very difficult because in order to work for the sake of the Creator and not for one’s own sake, it is against nature. Hence, Moses found it difficult. That is, how could he say to all of Israel that they should do the work of the menorah, that it must be lit before the front of the menorah, where “before the front of the menorah” is the Creator?
In other words, the Creator is the one standing before a person, as it is written, “The Lord is ever before me.” When the body is lit up, it must shine not for its own sake. Rather, the body must shine for the sake of the Creator. This is called “The seven candles will shine before the front of the menorah,” where the seven candles are the six days of work and the Sabbath. This means that the body must shine from the light of the soul, as in “The Lord’s candle is man’s soul,” where everything must be “before the front of the menorah,” meaning it should all be not for his own sake, but for the sake of the Creator.
By this we should interpret, truly perplexing, why the Creator said, “This was the workmanship of the menorah, a hammered work of gold.” That is, why did the Creator say “hammered work,” which means that making the menorah should be difficult? We should interpret that this is the meaning of what our sages said, “When the Creator showed him the workmanship of the menorah, Moses was perplexed.” That is, he asked, “Why did the Creator make it so it would be difficult?” We should answer this with what was said above, “As the advantage of the light from within the darkness.” This is why He made the menorah deliberately difficult, so they would taste the taste of darkness and will know the importance of nearing the Creator by His giving them vessels of bestowal.
However, Moses asked, “It is true that there should be darkness so as to distinguish between light and darkness. However, since they are unable to emerge from the control of the will to receive, what is the benefit in it being difficult? True, they will taste the darkness, but they will never be able to come to the light. Thus, they will never be rewarded with the advantage of the light from within the darkness. In other words, they will receive darkness but how will they ever be rewarded with the light, meaning with vessels of bestowal?”
We should interpret that it is about this that the Creator’s reply came. “The Creator said to him, ‘Throw the gold into the fire and the menorah will be made by itself.’” This means that it is true that the Creator agreed with Moses that man cannot obtain vessels of bestowal by himself. And your question, “How then will they obtain vessels of bestowal?” Tell them, “Throw the gold,” meaning the will to receive, which is called Ze-Hav [Hebrew: “give this,” but also Zahav (gold)]. In other words, only if they want to throw away the will to receive for themselves, the menorah, meaning the body, so it will shine “before the front of the menorah,” and before the menorah is the Creator, this means that the menorah will be done by itself.
Naturally, the Creator can certainly give a person vessels of bestowal, as He has given man vessels of reception. This is the meaning of what RASHI interpreted about the verse, “This was the workmanship of the menorah.” The question is, Who made the menorah? Through the Creator, it was made by itself. It follows that one should not look at the descents he has, for everything is regarded as ascents, as it is written, “When you raise.”
Inapoi la pagina 1989 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link