|The Menorah - Light Up My Life!
Published: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 05:36:58 PM
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Parshat Beha’alotcha begins with the Mitzva for the Kohen to light the Menorah daily, in the Mishkan and later on in the Beit HaMikdash even on Shabbat.
What is the message of the Menorah for us when we have no Mikdash? And we know that the Torah is G‑d’s GPS (G‑d’s Personal System) for us in the year 2020 and beyond.
The Mishna (Avot Ch. 4) teaches, "There are three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of Kehuna (priesthood) and the crown of Monarchy." Corresponding to these three, with which Israel were crowned, there were three crowns on the Temple vessels. The crown of Torah corresponds to the gold crown, which was set on the Ark of Testimony (containing the Two Tablets). The crown of Kehuna corresponds to the incense altar, for only regarding the Kohanim (priests) does it say, "They shall place incense in Your Presence, and put sacrifices on Your Altar" (Deuteronomy 33:10). Finally, the crown of monarchy corresponds to the table in the Sanctuary, for tables, which in Biblical and later Hebrew can symbolize wealth and bounty (see Psalm 23), may here be viewed as evoking the economic and political power of the state.
Still, the Mishnah adds that there is yet another crown, "the crown of a good name," which "surpasses them all." This crown is NOT enumerated among the others. Rather, it is kept separate from them and it stands on its own. To what does this crown correspond in the Temple?
The Maharal of Prague associates this crown with the fourth vessel of the Temple - the pure-gold Menorah. The Menorah has no gold crown on it. Neither is it made of acacia wood inlayed with gold. Rather, the whole menorah is like a pure golden crown, embellished with golden cups, spheres and flowers. The crown of the menorah is not something extrinsic to it - the menorah itself is a crown.
It is the same with a person’s good name. It is not an external crown that is placed upon his head. A man's good name touches on his very essence. It includes his whole personality in all its components. It is not an external image, fashioned by public relations professionals, photographers, and newsmen. A person’s good name is the reputation that he earns for himself through his whole life's work, all his deeds and ventures. That is why this crown surpasses all the others.
A man's good name does not find expression at the beginning of his life. Rather, it is acquired through strenuous, daily toil over the course of one's whole life. King Solomon therefore said, "A good name is better than precious oil" (Ecclesiastes 7:1). But however good it may be, oil is applied externally to a person's body, while a person's good name is that person himself.
Moreover, that same verse concludes, "and the day of death is better than the day of birth." Only on the day that a man dies is the good name that he acquired for himself during his life fully revealed. The Menorah cause us to reflect on the type of life we are living.