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Posted on May 27, 2021 (5781) By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

This is the workmanship of the Menorah: hammered-out gold, from its base to its flowers, it is hammered-out. According to the vision that Hashem showed Moshe, so did he make the Menorah.[2]

Moshe did not have an easy time with the Menorah. He required, say Chazal,[3] a special lesson from Hashem in which He showed Moshe a “model” of sorts of the Menorah. That still did not do the trick! Moshe still found its execution difficult. Hashem was compelled to deliver the working apparatus through a miracle from Heaven.

As is always the case with the words of Chazal, there is some message that we should be taking away from this. Perhaps it is the following. The Menorah represents the Heavens illuminating us with the light of Torah. We can toil to understand Torah. In the end, we fail on our own, and require Divine assistance. Like Moshe’s Menorah, the instruction manual alone doesn’t get us there. As the gemara teaches,[4] arriving at the correct understanding of a sugya – determining what the halachic bottom line is after all the logical wrangling – requires help from Heaven. Moreover, as the Hafla’ah writes[5]yaga’ti u-mazasi/I toiled, and I found” means that whenever we toil in understanding Torah, whatever we come up with is a “find,” something we could not engineer using our own devices. Our success is not of our doing; it resembles finding a thousand-dollar bill floating down from above in front of us.

Moshe “made” the Menorah only in the sense of working at its production. The finished product came straight from HKBH.

Alternatively, we can view the Menorah as the talmid chacham, the vessel that holds the ohr ha-Torah, similar to the Aron which also alludes to the talmid chacham. We wouldn’t find that very satisfying, however. Why would the Mishkan require two different utensils, each of which signified the talmid chacham?

The difference between them is in what they do with that ohr. The Aron- talmid chacham sits, protected, in his own sanctuary. He is free to develop further and further without interruption. This doesn’t mean that he sits in any ivory tower, focusing only on his own growth. He may freely make his Torah available by allowing seekers of the dvar Hashem to come to him. But he does not take it on the road, other than through the important metaphysical impact his Torah has on the entire world.

On the other hand, the Menorah- talmid chacham actively seeks to engage. He insists on shining the Torah’s light to the masses, to guide them and to give them merit. An inescapable occupational hazard of his work is pushback and resistance. People will oppose him, and throw up obstacles in front of him. He will have detractors and enemies. Meeting these challenges, however, will make him stronger, will contribute to his growth. Exactly like the Menorah, his gold is hammered out. His greatness comes through sustaining those beatings! This is true not only of the great talmidei chachamim, the body of the Menorah, but even of the “flowers,” the pirchei kehunah/lesser talmidei chachamim. Like the Menorah, they as well develop more by sustaining the hammerings and beatings.

  1. Based on Chidushei R. Yosef Nechemia (Kornitzer) (1880-1933), Rav of Krakow
  2. Bamidbar 8:4
  3. Bamidbar Rabbah 15:3
  4. Megillah 6b
  5. Ibid.d