One of the most delicate acts of love is giving your loved one the gift of giving. It’s easy to take, and it’s easy to give, but to give to another by receiving from them demands an especially deep and altruistic love. This is the gift of the Menorah.
Giving is empowering. When I give to another, it means that I have something that they lack. It means that they need me. It’s critical and Godly to give, but there is also the danger that while empowering ourselves, we are making the recipient weaker by their dependence on us. For this reason, the highest level of charity in halacha is to help someone be self-sufficient. So in any relationship, it’s crucial to counterbalance one’s giving with the ability to receive. This demands great courage, because to receive means to admit one’s own vulnerability and weakness.
What does God need the Menorah for? He doesn’t, the Midrash answers.
I don’t need the light of the Menorah. Rather, I want to let you provide me with light as I did for you, to elevate you in the eyes of the nations, who will say that Israel provides light for God who provides light for all. A parable, to a sighted man and a blind man walking together. The sighted man said to the blind man- ‘Come, and I will support you,’ and thus the blind man walked. When they came to the house, the sighted man said to the blind man, ‘Go out and light the candle for me, so that you don’t owe me a favor for accompanying you.
Midrash Rabba Tetzaveh 36:2
God presents himself as needy, thus opening up a space for the Jewish people to give to Him. But here, too, there is a danger, that the receiving in love becomes self-centered taking. Perhaps this is the why the Menorah has a particular demand for purity, both in its materials, and in the oil used to light it, presented in chapter 27. It demands a great deal of personal refinement to be able to separate egocentric dross from the act of receiving, to leave it as an act of love pure as gold.
This is my own little insight about the 929 chapter of the day, in 300 words or so. Chapter 27 was monday. I’d love to hear your comments and start a conversation
What’s 929? A near-impossible challenge of consistency. A song of Jewish unity. A beautiful project worth checking out. Learn more at 929.org.il