Rabbi Dr. Meir Tamari
In parshat Trumah we read, and they will take unto Me whereas in this
parshah it is written, and they shall take unto you. It seems that this
mitzvah required more of Moshes strength than any other commandment
regarding the Mishkan. If we can understand the nature of the Menorah and
its oil, we will see the difference between it and the other vessels. We
would think that Menachot would require fine olive oil, as did the
Menorah, since they were eaten whereas in the latter case the oil is not
used for eating. Yet we learn that this is not so (Menachot 86a).
There are 3 crowns mentioned in the Mishnah (Avot chapter 4, mishnah 17),
the crown of Kingship, the crown of Priesthood, the crown of Torah, but
the crown of the good name [ie of good deeds (Rashi)] is superior to them
all. The Maharal queries why the Tanna does not use the term 4 crowns.
Furthermore, the Midrash sees the crowns as referring to the Shulchan, the
Mizbeach, the Aron and the Menorah. They all had a zer, a fence around
them, while the crown of the good name did not. Obviously, these 3 crowns
are the symbols of sovereignty and dominion, but we must not see them as
referring to those roles in relation to others. Who is dominated when one
sits in a room and studies Torah? So they must refer to the self-rule and
power to control ones self, as it is written, One who controls himself,
is more powerful than he who captures a city ( Mishleh, 16: 32). The zer
is a symbol of such control, as Ibn Ezrah tells us regarding the Nazir, of
whom the Torah speaks as the Zer. The crown of a good name does not merely
mean that one should do good deeds. It means that this doing shall only
have one purpose, namely, doing them only for the sake of Heaven. In the
case of Moshe it is written, and she saw that the child was good-
perfect. The Admor Menachem Mendel of Kotsk said that this is what we
mean when we say a Rebbe is a good Jew; somebody without pesolet. Even
so, how can we conceive of the crown of a good name as being superior to
the crown of Torah study, when we know that such study is above everything
else (Yerushalmi, Peah, chaptert1, halakhah 1)? Shall we say then as the
Sifri (Eikev) does: One should not say, I will study Torah in order that
I should become rich from it, or that people will call me rabbi, or so
that I shall be rewarded in the World to Come, but only for the love of G-d? Yet one should study Torah even so, even if not for the sake of
Heaven. Where Torah is studied for its own sake, without any other
consideration then indeed it stands above all else. However where such
Torah, as all the other crowns, is mixed with other considerations, then
the crown of a good name stands above all.
How can human beings do good deeds without personal considerations or self-
interest being involved? After all, each one is primarily concerned with
them-selves, and just as with the other crowns, there is the danger of
impure motivation. The secret lies in the relationship of the crown of a
good name and the Menorah and the oil required for it. This olive oil had
to refined and without impurities. In order to obtain such oil, one has to
beat the olives, pulverize and crush them and then separate out the
impurities. So one has to do with ones deeds, until they are clear of
pesolet and solely for the sake of Heaven. That is the Crown of a Good
This purity of a good name is closely linked to the Menorah in the
Mishkan. The Menorah unlike all the other vessels that denote lordship and
rule is completely devoted only to the negation of self, serving only to
bring light. Therefore, it has no need for a zer that is only a vessel on
the particular vessel, whereas the Menorah is a complete whole fashioned
from a single slab of gold. It requires shemen zach, just like the Crown
of a Good Name.
Shem Mi Shmuel, Tetzaveh, 5673. PURIM.
Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Meir Tamari and Torah.org.
Dr. Tamari is a renowned economist, Jewish scholar, and founder of the Center For Business Ethics (www.besr.org) in Jerusalem.