This week’s Parasha includes a fairly significant mystery, one that is only solved by Midrash.
The Menorah, symbolic of the light within each of us, the light that each of us shine and of God’s light, is installed and lit in the Mishkan. The Torah teaches the intricacies and details of the Menorah, which is also said to have been created out of a single great piece of gold, but is ambiguous as to who created it. One interpretation is that it was Moshe who closely followed God’s instructions. Yet another interpretation is that it was God. Bamidbar/Numbers 8:4.
Rashi relates that Moshe was actually unable to replicate God’s instructions, try as hard as he might, so he placed the block of gold into the fire, perhaps to soften it for another go and the Menorah miraculously emerged.
The Ramban explains that this vagueness was to teach us the importance of effort. Moshe was actually credited with making the Menorah because he worked with such dedication and focus to accomplish it—even though he was not ultimately successful.
We learn that God wants to credit us for any mitzvah for which we devote a good faith effort. The Torah teaches us that just making the effort is an accomplishment. This is one of many such examples in the Torah.
There is the quote attributed to Henry Ford (whose neshamah is probably delighted to be quoted in a Torah drash) that “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Henry Ford may have gotten this thought from the Ramban. God wants us to make the effort and there is reward in that whether the task is accomplished or not.
This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Herbert Yoskowitz teaching a brilliant study session. Rabbi Yoskowitz quotes Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb, head of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem who on June 7 , 2017 wrote : “For me Baha’lotcha is the saddest parashah in the Torah.” While Rabbi Yoskowitz disagrees with that assessment, he will never-the-less focus on what he regards as the happiest Haftarah which is chanted both on this Shabbat and on Shabbat Hanukkah. This Haftarah includes the words “a brand plucked from the fire – whose words in Hebrew: “Ude Mutzahl Maesh” (Zachariah 3:2) are attached to the wall in our sanctuary adjacent to the Holocaust Torah. In Zachariah 4:6 are the words “Not by might, nor by power, but by MY Spirit says the Lord of Hosts,” one of the most popular of phrases in the Bible, words which are sung by Jewish teenagers as well as by Jewish adults.
Come study with Rabbi Yoskowitz the meanings of these phrases as well as the importance of the message in this Haftarah which has echoes in current Israel and Jewish History.
9:45 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like. We end in time for the Rabbi’s Sermon.