You Light Up My Life

Parashat Tetzaveh, most people will tell you, begins with the mitzva of lighting the Menorah. There’s only one problem: the Menorah is not mentioned at all. The location of the nightly lighting is “in the tent of meeting, outside the curtain (parokhet), in front of the testimony.” The location, within the Sanctuary, seems to be an integral part of the mitzva.
If we look back at Parashat Teruma, we find that virtually every step is phrased in the second person singular–i.e., to Moses. But there are two exceptions, two cases in which the third person singular is used, “yaaseh otah,” “he shall make it”–concerning the Menorah and concerning the hangings which close off the Sanctuary, the Parokhet and the Masakh (Screen). These hangings essentially ensure that the light of the Menorah does not leave the Sanctuary.
This stands in dramatic distinction to the Menorah of the Temple. Shlomo builds the Temple with “open closed windows” (I Ki. 6:4), explained by R. Hanina and R. Levi (Lev. Rabbah 31:6) as “narrowing inside, widening outside, in order to illuminate the world.”
This is the difference between Mishkan (Tabernacle) and Mikdash (Temple)igned to be disassembled and reassembled for travel. It represents a nation–or a person–in the stage of development. Enlightenment at that point is quite insular. One is not ready to illuminate the world.
The Mikdash, on the other hand, represents permanence and maturity. It is literally set in stone. From such an environment, light may go forth to illuminate the entire world.

About the Author
Yoseif Bloch is a rabbi who has taught at Yeshivat HaKotel, Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah and served as a congregational rabbi in Canada. He currently works as an editor, translator and publisher. As a blogger and podcaster, he is known as Rabbi Joe in Jerusalem.