Written by: Rebecca Felgin (6th grade) who becomes a Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat, 3/11/17
This week's Parasha is Tetzaveh. The word “Tetzaveh” means command. The beginning of the Parasha begins with the following commandment that Hashem gave to Moshe:
וְאַתָּ֞ה תְּצַוֶּ֣ה | אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֨וּ אֵלֶ֜יךָ שֶׁ֣מֶן זַ֥יִת זָ֛ךְ כָּתִ֖ית לַמָּא֑וֹר לְהַֽעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד:
Hashem tells Moshe,“Command the children of Israel that they should bring to you PURE OLIVE OIL, to light the menorah.
Hashem is very specific that it needs to be only “pure olive oil”, only the cleanest purest part of the oil can be used.
What can we learn from the fact that Hashem specifically commands only PURE OLIVE OIL to be used?
1) In order to get the purest olive oil, the olives go through a crushing process. The first few drops of oil are the most pure. Only this oil is used for the Menorah.
The lighting of the menorah symbolizes lighting up the souls of the people around us. Sometimes we may feel like we are “crushed” - tested with hardships and challenges. Just like the olives have to go through a crushing process in order to get oil that is pure and good, when we as people are “crushed”, and go through a challenge or tough time, if we make a choice to have a good attitude and not wallow in self-pity, we not only turn it into a good situation, we also affect the people around us through our positive attitude.
2) Olive oil does not mix with any other liquid. It separates and rises to the top. The Torah symbolizes the light in a world of darkness. It guides us on how to live a spiritual and meaningful life. The pure olive oil that we use for the Menorah teaches us a very important message: We, as Jews, are unique and we should follow the Torah and Jewish religion and should not assimilate with other religions. Like the oil, we should float to the top.
3) Another lesson from the crushing process is that just like the crushing of the olive brings out the best in it, so to the more we push ourselves to follow the Torah and do what Hashem wants, the more we will succeed.
4) In the Mishkan, the tabernacle, we used the finest olive oil to light the menorah, and we used the cheaper oil to prepare meals. Usually for lighting, regular oils are used and for baking & cooking, we use more expensive and pure oils.
Why in the Mishkan was it the opposite?
The menorah symbolizes spirituality. It represents Torah and Mitzvot, like it says: כי נר מצוה ותורה אור Neir Mitzvah VeTorah Or - A candle is a mitzvah and Torah is light. The meal offerings represents the more material and physical needs of a person. The lesson is that we should use more and the best of what we have for spiritual items more than we do on material things.
A personal lesson I can learn from all this is: When I play piano it’s very challenging but I still overcome it by practicing many times and letting my parents watch me play. But when my parents push me and make me practice I get better and better than I would be if I didn’t practice.
I see that I can make Judaism a part of my life by: Praying to Hashem, celebrating Shabbat and learning the weekly Parasha. By pushing myself as much as I can I can bring out the best just like the oil.