Shabbat Parshat Beha'alotecha - 5760
Common Aspect of the Menorah and the Human Body
beginning of this week's Parshah in the Diaspora, Parshat Beha'alotecha
(we will attempt to catch up
with Eretz Yisrael, where this week's Parshah is Shelach, by doing a
double D'var Torah on one of
the upcoming Double Parshiyot), we learn of HaShem's
command to Aharon to light the Menorah in the Mishkan.
The Menorah was such a remarkable "piece of work" that Moshe
Rabbeinu at first could not picture it in his mind's eye, until HaShem
showed him a vision of it.
One of the
aspects of its uniqueness was that it was "all of a piece," a
single block of gold, as RASHI
explains in his commentary on the word "Mikshah," "of a
piece" (Bamidbar 8:4), that was
chiseled and hammered out with such precision and beauty that the
Menorah became a single, and
singular entity. Its branches
were arrayed in their correct form and place, and they were not
"attached" in the usual manner as separate pieces.
represented the light of Torah, also a single and singular entity, the
"Blueprint of the World" used by the Master Architect in His
Creation of the Universe.
being, created "B'tzelem Elokim," in the "image of
G-d," is also a single and singular entity, a potential source of
Torah and spiritual light. He
or she is a "block of gold chiseled and hammered out" by HaShem,
the "Tzayar HaOlamim," the Supreme Artist of the World, in such
a manner that all his or her branches are arrayed in their correct form
science has only just begun to shed light on the mechanism by which a
single genetic source, though betraying no apparent potential for
specificity, can be "chiseled and hammered out" such that it
becomes a source for cells of the heart, the brain, the eye, etc.
There is a
single source of light inhabiting the entire body.
It is the "Ner Elokim," the "Lamp of G-d,"
"Nishmat Adam," the "Soul of the human being," "Chofes
kol Chadrei Baten," that "examines and illuminates all the
chambers of the body."
beginning to learn how for the blind, additional areas in the brain are
enlarged, developed and enlightened, such that the given individual can
develop his human and Torah potential, that are in fact one and the same.
That is why it was about the blind Rabbi Yossi, whom the Talmud
euphemistically refers to as "Rabbi Yossi Sagi Nahor,"
"Rabbi Yossi, full of light," that the Talmud also says,
"whatever Rabbi Yossi says can be assumed to be correct."
The Laws of
Damages obligate the criminal who has caused another human being to lose a
limb, to pay vast sums of money in damages.
It is thus possible to "ransom" a limb, because a fatal
blow was not dealt to the victim. The
"Neshamah," the "Soul," is still present in the
injured party. Only for
murder, for the taking of life, the robbing of the Neshamah, can there be
no ransom, and therefore must the punishment be "a life for a
This interplay of body and soul, the idea that even a diminished body can be inhabited by an undiminished soul, would seem to be a basic idea in Judaism. An idea implicit in the Blessing that a Jew recites at least three times a day in the "Shemoneh Esray" (the "Eighteen," the fundamental Prayer), that G-d is the "Faithful and Merciful Physician of the World." Who is able, as He is able to perform the process of "Tzimtzum," "Contraction," upon His Infinite Self in order to relate to the finite and mortal creatures of His world, so is He able, by an analogous process of "Tzimtzum," to contract an infinite human Soul so that it can continue to occupy a damaged body.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU