Parshat Terumah

To Illuminate

Hashem loves your new beginnings, the tremendous amount of times you overcome the ego and the embarrassment, when you get up and say: “It doesn’t matter what was, it doesn’t matter how much I’ve fallen, I’m starting anew!”


Harav Israel Asulin

Translated by Moshe Neveloff

Monday, 29th of Shevat, 5776


Light.  An abstract concept, elusive, impossible to define; spiritual light.

What is this concept?  Does it have a chance in our lives?  We, who were born in frozen fields of darkness, in the most remote and dim depths, amongst giant shopping centers which numb our senses, far from any little bit of sanity and rest, deep in the depths of the exile of the soul and knowledge, we can be enlightened?  What does it mean to be enlightened?  It sounds a little bit mystical or like a fable, those words- ‘light’ ‘holiness’; is it something which happens here, in this world, to people like us, in our regular and tiring lives?

For the sake of truth, we are not the only ones who wonder about this matter, Moshe Rabbeinu[1] himself already had difficulty with it.

When Hashem showed Moshe the structure of the Tabernacle and commanded him, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me- so that I may dwell among them” (Exodus, Chapter 25, Verse 8), he detailed for him the specific components and the final shape of all the vessels of the Tabernacle, however, regarding the Menorah He gives him a special instruction, which sounds complicated to the point of being impossible: “You shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the Menorah be made, its base, its shaft, its cups, its knobs, and its blossoms shall be (hammered) from it” (Exodus, Chapter 25, Verse 31).  Rashi[2] explains regarding this verse: “It all came from one piece.”

How is it possible to create a Menorah which is made up of so many parts, when it all comes from one piece of gold?

Surely, Moshe found it difficult to make the Menorah more than the rest of the vessels of the Tabernacle.  “Because it was difficult for him, Hashem said to him: ‘Take a piece of gold and throw it into the fire and remove it.’  What did Moshe do?  He took a piece of gold and threw it into the fire and said: ‘Master of the world, behold the piece of gold is in the fire, and just as you wanted me to do this, so to make the Menorah,’ immediately the Menorah came out of the fire completely finished.” (Midrash Tanchuma)

So to regarding the light and the holiness in our lives, which the Menorah represents according to Rebbe Natan[3], because how can physical people like ourselves merit light and holiness?  Is it in our power, to create a menorah of pure gold and to illuminate through it the darkness of this world?  How do we do this?  How do we create it?  How do we pound out so many cups, knobs and flowers?  How do we make it precisely until we reach the perfect completeness?  How can we be illuminated already, pure already, for the sake of Hashem?

The answer is, that it really is not in our power, and we don’t make and create and pound and be precise in order to reach completeness…

What is correct then?  What in any case is can we do in order to kindle the light?

Our part, and the only thing that we can do, is to throw a piece of gold into the fire- to make our best effort and to pray for help from Hashem.

The rest Hashem does.

What in any case is the effort that we need to make in order to merit God’s light?

Rebbe Natan says: “hammered out shall the Menorah be made”, in order for the light to come, you need a hammered out single piece of gold, stubbornness like steel.  “Someone who has begun a little bit in the service of Hashem knows this, that it’s impossible to truly be a Jew without a great level of stubbornness.  Because there are many trials and ascents and falls which each person needs to go through without measure.  If a person will not be greatly stubborn to not let go of the small amount of his service which he has begun, it’s impossible to remain in his place.” (Likutei Halachot[4], the Laws of Bircat Hamazon, 4th halacha, 12th paragraph)

You want light?  You want a life of holiness?  You want to make inside yourself a tabernacle for Hashem and light the menorah of your life?

Be stubborn!!!

It doesn’t matter what you are going through, and even if you have tried thousands of times and failed.  Even if after years you find yourself in the same stinking garbage dump.  Even if you ascended and descended, again and again, without measure.  Even if it seems to you that Hashem doesn’t look at your service, that you are not worth anything, that you are not successful.  Because, really, how many times can a person declare “from now I’m on a diet” and finish the week increasing his weight?!  How many times can a person decide to dedicate himself completely to healing his wife, and find himself again in the same trivial argument?!  How many times can you fall asleep during personal prayer, which was supposed to be a time of loud voices and thunder and awe of Hashem?!

Also then- the Tsaddikim request of us- don’t be impressed by how much you’ve fallen!  Be stubborn!  Don’t stop!  Begin anew!  Try again!  You don’t know how much Hashem loves your new beginnings, the tremendous amount of times you overcome the ego and the embarrassment, when you get up and say: “It doesn’t matter what was, it doesn’t matter how much I’ve fallen, I’m starting anew!”

“And this is the main pride which Hashem receives from the Jewish people.  Because Hashem has great pride from the daring and the stubbornness of a Jew, who they knock down every time and he strengthens himself all the time and he is really stubborn and doesn’t allow himself to fall in any way.” (Likutei Halachot ibid)

Hashem does not receive pride from the fact that you don’t fall!  You indeed fall, but you don’t allow yourself to fall in your spirit, to be broken from this, to leave the game!  In this you are great and in this Hashem receives pride from you!

This is our effort, this is the matter of throwing a piece of gold into the fire- from the strength of this dedication we throw ourselves again and again, whether it be life or death, embarrassment or pain, with impressive stubbornness and courage, and we begin again.

There, inside the fire of this stubbornness, the Menorah will be made by itself, with all the light, the holiness, the purity and the beauty which pours out!  Because “from its base to its flower” (Numbers, Chapter 8, Verse 4), Rebbe Natan says, until the light of the redemption will grow and shine.

[1] Our Rabbi, Teacher

[2] A major Rabbi of the Middle Ages, wrote a commentary on all of the Bible and Talmud

[3] Rebbe Nachman’s major disciple

[4] Rebbe Natan’s explanation of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), based upon Rebbe Nachman’s teachings

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