This week’s Parsha is Behalotcha. After the dedication of the Tabernacle, G-d instructs Moshe to tell Aaron that the Menorah should be lit so that the 7 lamps can light up the Tabernacle and the camp of Israel in the desert.
You see, while we take electricity and the fact we have light in the evenings for granted, prior to technological advancements, evenings and darkness symbolized fear and the unknown.
Without light it was impossible to safely leave one’s house. Without light it was impossible to travel. Without light it was difficult to feel fully settled as it was unclear who was around you and what was happening. It was impossible to guarantee your safety when the darkness was thick and the light was scarce.
The Menorah was not just a symbol of light, but also represented a function in allowing the people of Israel who were camped around the Tabernacle to have access to light at night. In my mind I always get this amazing vision of the Jewish people camped out in the pitch dark desert with the lights of the Menorah illuminating far and wide. This light was representative of the safety the Jewish people felt in the desert as they were enveloped and protected in G-d’s care and love.
Interestingly, while the practical functionality of this light was not in question, symbolically light can also represent hope and comfort. During winter months, when there is less daylight and people are huddled indoors during the gloomy shorter days there is a direct correlation between higher rates of sadness and depression. Without appropriate light we, as humans, struggle to conquer the sadness that the uncertainty of darkness brings forth.
So too, this week I have been struggling when I have seen the difficult state the world is in. I have followed the Black Lives Matter protests, not just in the United States but also locally here.
Let us take direct inspiration from the light in this week’s Parsha, which highlight the importance of light in our lives. I would like to suggest that each person take upon themselves to do something small but meaningful that helps to bring a little more light into the world this upcoming week.
Check on your elderly neighbors. Reach out to a friend who may be having a rough time. Consider whether you have it within your means to give support to an organisation that is fighting racism and discrimination in our country.
There is so much that can be done which requires minimal effort, but will have maximum impact. As we are currently in the thick of the Australian winter we need not wait until the light increases and our moods improve to take action. We are blessed with the ability, today, to add light into the world and we should not forget how important that is.
Wishing you and your families a meaningful and light filled Shabbat.