Hashem tells Moshe to command the Jewish People to supply pure olive oil for the Menorah in the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting). He also tells Moshe to organize the making of the Bigdei Kehuna (priestly garments): A breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, a sash, a forehead-plate, and linen trousers. Upon their completion, Moshe is to perform a ceremony for seven days to consecrate Aharon and his sons. This includes offering sacrifices, dressing Aharon and his sons in their res ective garments, and anointing Aharon with oil.
Hashem commands that every morning and afternoon a sheep be offered on the Altar in the Mishkan. This offering should be accompanied by a meal-offering and libations of wine and oil. Hashem commands that another Altar for incense be built from acacia wood and covered with gold. Aharon and his descendants should burn incense on this Altar each day.
A Drop in the Ocean?
“…to kindle the lamp continually” (27:20)
We never know how a kind word can change a life. Often we think that a little drop of encouragement is no more than that — a drop in the ocean. How wrong! Sometimes the smallest smile can be a lifesaver to someone who may be sinking invisibly before our eyes.
The Midrash Tanchuma tells of Rabbi Chanina, the deputy Kohen Gadol (High Priest), speaking of his tenure in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple):
“I served in the Beit Hamikdash, and miraculous things happened with the Menorah. From the time we lit the Menorah on Rosh Hashana, until the following Rosh Hashana, it never went out.”
The Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai, once asked Rabbi Chaim Brisker about this Midrash: “The Torah mandates ‘…the Children of Israel shall take for you pure, pressed oil for illumination, to kindle the lamp continually.’ There is a mitzvah here to light the Menorah every day. If so, how could Rabbi Chanina report that the Menorah was never lit from one year to the next?”
Rabbi Chaim answered that the Rambam writes that someone who puts oil into an already-lit oil lamp on Shabbat is breaking the prohibition of kindling fire on Shabbat. If so, similarly, in the Beit Hamikdash — every day when they put a little drop of oil into the Menorah, it was considered as though they lit it.
Sometimes, just pouring a little of the oil of encouragement into someone’s life is enough to light up their entire world.
- Sources: Based on Peninim Yekarim in Iturei Torah