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Posted on June 18, 2024 (5784) By Rabbi Pinchas Winston | Series: | Level:

ONE OF THE greatest gifts you can give a person is inspiration. And though giving gifts on Chanukah is not really our thing, the holiday of Chanukah itself is the gift of inspiration. The chayn in Chanukah and the Menorah of Chanukah tell you that.

Parashas BeHa’alosecha begins

God spoke to Moshe, saying: “Speak to Aharon and tell him: ‘When you light—beha’alosecha—the lamps, the seven lamps will illuminate towards the face of the Menorah.’” (Bamidbar 8:1-2)

regarding which Rashi comments:

When you light: literally, when you cause to ascend…He (Aharon HaKohen) is required to light the candle until the flame rises by itself. Our rabbis further elucidated from here that there was a step in front of the Menorah on which the kohen stood to prepare [the candles]. (Rashi)

These two ideas are not only necessary to explain the word, beha’alosecha in the verse, they also clue us in to the actual source of inspiration itself. After all, though most people know what inspiration is, they don’t really know what it is. This inspires us to figure it out. Chanukah, which the Ramban says is alluded to in this parsha, inspires us to try it out.

That was the easy part. Now for the more difficult one.

Everything exists because of God’s infinite light called Ohr Ain Sof—Light Without Limit. Everything is made from it, and everything lives because of it. Take Ohr Ain Sof away from anything and it immediately ceases to exist. Everything we see or feel is just another form of the light, because there is nothing else but God’s spiritual, unlimited light.

Yet, the world that this spiritual and unlimited light created and runs is so physical, so limited. How does that work? We call it a miracle because, naturally-speaking, it is not natural at all. From where we stand it should not be possible at all, but it is anyhow, thanks to something God created called sefiros.

The sefiros don’t really answer the question, but they do tell us the means by which God makes the miracle happen. They are spiritual creations, also made from Ohr Ain Sof, but with a capacity to reduce the spiritual intensity of the Ohr Ain Sof so that the physical world can exist and function.

I’m going to skip the next, very technical (but informative) part, which is in my latest book, b”H, called “Inspired.” The main idea is this. The sefiros are organized like a human body, which we are modeled after. Just as our limbs live and function because of the light of the soul within them, the sefiros also have a light inside of them that acts as their soul, a very specific light called “Da’as.” The light of Da’as is the source of life, sense of being, and spiritual energy to accomplish.

In short, the light of Da’as that courses through the sefiros that govern our history (Chesed through Yesod) is the source of all inspiration, in the sefiros and in humans as well. Motivational speakers may be entertaining, but it is what they say more than how they say it that talks to us inside and inspires us to get up and do great things. Great ideas inspire great things.

The kohen climbs three stairs he didn’t need to reach the Menorah to teach that only inspired people inspire others. Being a conduit for the light of God, the kohen had the incredible job of “lighting” our fires, by channeling that light, the light of Da’as—that the Menorah represents—to us. And he cannot stop what he is doing until he sees that we “burn” with the light of the Menorah on our own.

This is what happened through the kohanim in the time of the Chashmonaim. They were inspired to fight the Greeks regardless of the consequences, because inspired people do not need goals, to encourage them to fight their battles. They don’t ask questions that might intimidate them from trying. They just put everything they have into what they are doing and let the results take of themselves.

This is only the beginning of this life-altering discussion. Hopefully it will inspire you to learn the rest of it on your own.