Parashas Tetzaveh

This week’s parashah begins with the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Hashem tells Moshe (Shemos 27:20): “And you shall command the Children of Yisrael, that they shall take for you pure olive oil, pressed, for light, to kindle a lamp continually.” The Midrash expounds (Shemos Rabbah 36:2):
Hashem said: “It is not that I need these lights. Rather, it is so that you should provide light for Me just as I provided light for you. Why? In order to exalt you before all the nations of the world, that they should say that the People of Yisrael provide light for the One who provides light to all.”
We can explain with a parable about a sighted person and a blind person who were walking together. The sighted person said to the blind person: “Come, and I will support you.” Thus the blind person was able to walk along. When they entered the house, the sighted person said to the blind person: “Go and light the lamp and provide light for me, so that you will not be beholden to me because I accompanied you.” … The sighted person in the parable is the Holy One Blessed Be He, of whom it is written (Divrei HaYamim Beis 16:9): “For Hashem’s eyes roam throughout the land.” And the blind person in the parable is the People of Yisrael, of whom it is written (Yeshayah 59:10): “We grope the wall like the blind, and like the eyeless we grope; we stumble at noon as in the dark of night.” At the sixth hour of the day, they erred with the golden calf, and the Holy One provided light for them and guided them, as it is written (Shemos 13:21): “And Hashem went before them by day.”
So when they set out to build the Mishkan, Hashem called out to Moshe and told him: “They shall take for you pure olive oil, pressed, for light.” Said the People of Yisrael: “We have said (Tehillim 18:29), ‘for You light my lamp,’ and You are telling us to provide You light?” Hashem replied: “It is to elevate you, that you should kindle lights before Me, just as I provided light for you.”
The Maggid takes note of the double language in the verse from Yeshayah that the Midrash quotes: “We grope the wall like the blind, and like the eyeless we grope.” He explains that the purpose of the double language is to rule out both of the two possible ways a blind person can manage to make his way through the streets. One way is through enlisting the help of sighted people to guide him. The other way is through calling on his memory about the streets, from the time when he was able to see. Neither of these ways is available to a person who was never able to see and is now among people who are also blind. This is how the Jewish People describe themselves in Yeshayah’s prophecy. Their intent is to describe in expansive terms the severe blindness that the evil inclination imposes on the soul by cutting it off from light. Hashem, in His great kindness, guides us with His hand so that we do not fall into the traps that the evil inclination lays for us.  It is as David HaMelech says (Tehillim 37:32-33): “The wicked one watches for the righteous one and seeks to kill him, but Hashem will not leave him to his hand.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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