1. Pinner Shul
  2. Sedra Synopsis
  3. Beha’alotecha 5783

דַּבֵּר֙ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֵלָ֑יו בְּהַעֲלֹֽתְךָ֙ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֔ת אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה יָאִ֖ירוּ שִׁבְעַ֥ת הַנֵּרֽוֹת

‘‘Speak to Aharon and say to him: ‘When you LIGHT / KINDLE / RAISE UP the lights (lamps), the seven lights (lamps) shall light up / illuminate the front of the Menorah’’

The key word in this parashah is loosely translated as ‘light’ or ‘kindle’. BUT the root ‘עלה’ means ‘lift up’ or ‘ascend’ ….

There are many explanations and interpretations of this usage, ranging from the practical to the mystical.

One interesting coincidence is that Naso, the key word of last week’s parashah, can also mean ‘lift up’, as in ‘lift up the head’. Lifting something, or someone, up in the context of the Tanach, often has the connotation of making it important.

I am struck here by the image of Penny Mordaunt lifting up that sword – would we have even noticed it – or her – if it had been held horizontally? It is no coincidence, we are told, that this episode follows immediately after the account of all the princely offerings. This is strange, when we consider all the rituals and offerings that were the sole concern of the Kohanim that this was singled out. But Aharon’s contribution to this mitzvah was not a one-time episode, but a ritual that would continue throughout the generations of Bnei Yisrael, right to today. For the wording of the instructions was interpreted to imply that, even when both Temples had been destroyed, the miracle of Chanukah would ensure that a Chanukah Menorah would always be part of the ritual of Judaism.

Also, from Parashat Ki Tissa (30:8), we find the instructions for the daily ritual, including the burning of the sweet-smelling incense at twilight, to be performed: ‘and Aaron shall burn it at twilight when he lights the lamps’. Not only did Aharon perform this task with the same passion and enthusiasm each day as he did on the first occasion, the task also lifted him up.

The great Kabbalist and mystic of sixteenth century Safed, Rabbi Isaac Luria, pointed out that the when we look at the opening letters of the words “the lamps at twilight” – אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֛ת בֵּ֥ין הָעֲרְבַּ֖יִם – it forms the acronym Ahavah, the Hebrew word for love. Each and every day, the great mystic teaches, if Aharon wanted his service to ascend to the heaven he had to do it with feeling, with emotion, with love.

We can emulate Aharon by ‘lifting up’, or lighting up, our mitzvot and chesed with love.

Doreen Samuels

Skip to content