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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Bemidbar: Parashat Behaalotecha: A Missvah for a Lifetime

Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi

In the Gemara in Masechet Yoma (24:2) tells us that the misvah of lighting the Menorah is not considered an "Avodah" or an official Kohanim job. [Rashi explains that this is the case because the fire came by itself to one of the lamps, and the one lighting only had to direct the flame to the other lamps in the Menorah.] Therefore, the lighting of the Menorah is permitted even to a "Zar" or stranger from the tribe of Kohanim (i.e. a member of any other tribe).

The Meshech Hochma brings a question that is asked in Tosfot Yeshanim on this Gemara: We read in this week's Parasha Beha’alotecha:

"Speak to Aharon and say to him, 'When you set up the seven lamps, they are to light the area in front of the lampstand.' (Numbers, 8:2)

Yet, according to the Gemara, anyone may light the Menorah. Why is the verse said specifically to Aharon?

Hashem commanded for Aharon to light the Menorah for the first time. He had to climb up the stairs leading to the Menorah, prepare the oil and wicks, and light the Menorah. However, we read that for later generations:

"In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning." (Exodus 21:27)

We see in this verse that the misvah for future generations is directed to the Kohanim to only "keep the lamps burning" ("Ya’aroch Oto Aharon"), but not actually light the Menorah.

Aharon lit the Menorah for the remainder of his life. Even though he was only commanded to do so the first time, Aharon did more than he was asked and made sure to light the Menorah as well. The Torah tells us that Aharon completed all that Hashem had commanded Moshe. Rashi comments that this verse intends to praise Aharon, that he did not change from anything that he was commanded. Is this high praise? Who would change from what he is commanded? Rather, we can now understand this Rashi, that Aharon did not deviate from the first commandment Hashem gave him, and continued to light for the rest of his lifetime.

May we be blessed with the same passion for Godly work as Aharon, and achieve more than we are asked to achieve. In our day, we are not being asked to light the Menorah, but we are being asked to establish a time for Torah daily. If we spend time in the summer everyday physically enjoying the season, are we not obligated to nourish our spiritual side with the learning of Torah every day?com
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