In this week’s parsha we find two separate incidents that reveal the essence of our people. In the opening passage, Aaron is instructed to kindle the light of the menorah. This mitzvah was given to Aaron after the Princes of the Tribes brought their contributions for the dedication of the Tabernacle. The Midrash teaches us that Aaron was distressed that the leaders representing the tribes were called upon to offer gifts, while he and his tribe were not invited to do so.
This should give us all pause. In our world, very few people would feel deprived if they were exempt from making a contribution. We value a person by that which he possesses rather than by that which he gives away. The more that we acquire, the more that we accumulate, the more respect and power we command.
In Judaism however, it’s just the opposite. It’s not what we have, but what we give away that counts. Aaron felt deprived because he was not called upon to give; the Almighty comforted him by assuring him that his contribution - the kindling of the menorah (symbolic of Torah), would last forever - indeed, to this very day, even the most alienated Jew will kindle the Chanukah menorah even if he has no idea of the meaning behind it.
This concept of feeling deprived because of an inability to give is reinforced in the parsha, when a group of men approach Moses and state that they feel diminished because they were unable to bring the Paschal offering (9:6). Herein, we see the greatness of soul of our forefathers. They agonized over the fact that they were not able to participate in a mitzvah. How different were their values from ours in which we agonize over possessions that we lost or do not as yet have. To place things into their proper perspective, we need only ask, `By what will we be remembered at the end of our days - by what we amassed or by what we gave away by our mitzvas or by our acquisitions?`
An additional lesson that we can glean from this incident is that G-d grants us all a `second chance`. When the people beseeched Moshe to be allowed to bring the Paschal offering, G-d proclaimed the holiday of Pesach Sheni - A Second Passover, which is celebrated four weeks after Pesach. The message of Pesach Sheni is clear: if we so desire, G-d will grant us a second chance to start all over again. The holiday of Pesach Sheni was not commanded with all our other holidays. It had to spring from the souls of our people, from a sincere yearning for yet another opportunity to start anew. Thus, our parsha teaches us that, if we feel diminished because we didn’t participate in the service of G-d, if we agonize over it and beseech the Almighty to grant us a second chance, He will grant it.
And that’s the litmus test of the Jew...What makes you feel deprived? When you don’t have the privilege, of contributing, or when you lack possessions? When do you feel diminished when spiritually deprived, or when you are materially deprived, you can recreate your life, you must only desire it and G-d will do the rest.
This Torah portion is dedicated in memory of
Yitzchok ben Yisroel Avigdor
Parshas B`Haaloscha 15 Sivan 5777
SHABBOS CANDLE LIGHTING
(All times are for New York City)
Friday, June 9th, 2017
Candle Lighting time 8:08pm
Saturday, June 10th, 2017
Sabbath Ends 9:18pm
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