Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Central Luminary of Every Generation

As sure as a body requires a head, every generation of the collective Jewish body also needs a head. Our first "head" was Moses; Moshiach will be our last. The whole of Chassidus rests on this singular, fundamental premise - that every generation has a "head".
(He who denies this tenet we classify as an "opposer" [מתנגד].)

The following rough translation of an article (from Yiddish; הקריאה והקדושה, June 1941, p. 136) makes this point from the awkward name given last week's Torah portion.

"... When you elevate the lamps to face the inner aspect of the candelabrum, the seven lamps will shine." (Numbers 8, 2)

The word "בהעלותך" requires elucidation; The correct word would have been "בהדלקתך", "When you light the lamps". Instead the text reads, "When you elevate the lamps".

Invoking "elevation" in the lamp-lighting implies the lamps can be lit in a "lowering" manner as well! The words in the rest of the verse indicate these lamps reach a higher plane if the lamps are arranged to "point" to the middle candle, the one on the candelabrum's main stem. Rather than centering each wick in its bowl, each lamp thereby expressing its "equivalence", the wicks must point to, or "acknowledge", the lamp at the center [by being positioned at the east or West edge of its oil container].

It makes no difference, really, in terms of light radiated by the seven lamps - whatever the position of the wicks, but the candelabrum that stands in the Holy Temple intimates to an essence of Judaic light, Torah light, that projects from divinity and sanctity. On such basis, then, there is a big difference in the way the wicks are arranged. Each lamp experiences an elevation when it faces the one in the middle, the "biggest" of them. For if each outer wick were positioned to assume an otherwise "equivalent" [middle] position, then each lamp would suffer a diminished profile, because it fails to "bow" to the greater, central light source.

By lighting the Mishkan's candelabrum in the centrally-oriented arrangement, the Kohen Gadol thereby manifests the necessity to show respect to the central luminary because that's how G-d created the world; That is, every spiritual "branch luminary" must recognize that every generation has one individual who stands out above all the rest; He is the greatest of all Torah scholars; He is of greatest righteousness; And he is the wisest of all. According to this principle, it's important to realize the value of this spiritual personality in every generation.

If people submit to this individual, this giant in Torah, righteousness and wisdom, in effect they all "rise up" while they themselves illuminate. [A synergy takes place, rather than an antagonism.] For, in a generation wherein many turn away from this central figure, when many "great people" shine as independent sources of light irrespective of the greatest among them, their illuminations therefrom suffers a descent.

This is the lesson of the name of this week's Torah portion, "When you raise up" (בהעלותך). There where light bearers fail to turn to the individual giant among them, their light is but a lower, demoted light. Why? Because not everyone can be equally great; One of them is surely greater than another; But if they know not for sure who this individual is, the entire array of luminaries has but scant value; There is no "elevation" of the illumination because the luminaries are either too small to appreciate the greatest among them, or too paltry to want to recognize him; In which case the common folk mustn't rely on anyone but should rather by themselves seek out the greatest among them, until he's found!

1 comment:

  1. much needed inspiration today Frank..God bless~!