“Now you shall command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you pure olive oil, pressed for illumination, to kindle a lamp continually.” (Chapter 27, Verse 20) Our parsha begins by talking about the Menorah, the special seven branched candelabrum which was made to burn an eternal light in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and then afterwards in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Rebbe Noson explains that the pure oil was brought specifically to Moshe, because he represents the entire Torah. He was the true Tsaddik who could awaken and illuminate the souls of each individual Jew, whose souls are rooted in the Torah. This is why the verse says “you shall command the Children of Israel”; the word command in Hebrew, תצוה, also means making a connection. Hashem said to Moshe you should connect the Jewish souls to their root in the Torah, so that the Torah will be illuminated for each and every person, according to his soul (I think this is based on the teaching that every Jew has a special letter in the Torah). It was upon the Jewish people to bring to Moshe pure olive oil, meaning that they needed to awaken themselves and bring to the Tsaddik their pure olive oil, which is the aspect of the goodness of their minds and their knowledge (meaning their souls), which is called holy oil. So to today, each person needs to bring their good point, their pure olive oil- the pure goodness which they still find inside themselves to the Tsaddik. A person’s intention in bringing the oil to the Tsaddik should be that the light of the Tsaddik will shine on him, so that his soul is ignited and shines like a candle, which is the aspect of “A man’s soul is the lamp of Hashem” (Proverbs, Chapter 20, Verse 27). This is why the Jewish people were commanded to bring the pure olive oil to the Tsaddik, Moshe. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Breaking Bread, 5th teaching)
In Rebbe Nachman’s teachings and in the Chassidic teachings in general, connecting to the Tsaddik has a lot of importance. Connecting to him means learning his teachings and trying to follow the advice which he reveals in his teachings about life and about how to serve Hashem. Rebbe Noson writes in Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom that Rebbe Nachman knew all of the souls of the Jewish people and he knew how to give each person a special rectification (tikun) according to what his soul needed. (Teaching 185) In this world we are in a state of forgetfulness and sleep, spiritually, and our job is to try to wake up and remember where we came from and who we really are. Rebbe Nachman explains that the Tsaddikim blow on our hearts, spiritually; they blow off the dust of depression and sadness which is covering our hearts. They help our hearts re-ignite with burning desire to come closer to Hashem. (Likutei Moharan, 9th teaching, 2nd Part)
I think that a prayer which I wrote down for myself a long time ago on Erev Pesach helped me to start sharing these teachings on the Parsha: Hashem please help me spread the healing light of Rabbenu z”l (Rebbe Nachman). Ever since I began learning and connecting, in a deep way, with Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, I have been praying to Hashem to be able to share them. It has been an amazing experience each week to share a teaching on the parsha and also to be able to share experiences from my life. I remember a long time ago speaking during Succos to a good friend of mine from the community we used to live in, Shomria. I visited him in his Succah and I remember telling him as we parted that I feel like something is missing, I’m missing something in my life, in my connection to Hashem. Even though I already felt like my life had improved so much and was so much more meaningful living in Israel and becoming Torah observant, I still felt a lacking inside. It was shortly after this conversation that another friend in Shomria asked me if I wanted to join the workshop he was starting based on Breslov teachings. I said sure. After the holidays we started learning and talking together once a week. I was the only one who showed up to the ‘workshop’. One of the first subjects we learned about was personal prayer, which is something that Rebbe Nachman greatly stressed and encouraged his students to fulfill every day. I said to myself, ‘wow, I have to try this.’ I would walk home after the evening prayers the long way, taking an extra 10 or 15 minutes, on a new road which had just been paved for a new neighborhood. At first it definitely felt strange, what am I doing here, and what am I supposed to do? However, I remember looking up at the bright stars at night, in the northern Negev, and I started to feel the power of Rebbe Nachman’s advice. Even if it felt hard to speak and express myself before G-d, it was good just to get some fresh air and have quiet time to think. It felt like a whole new world was opening up before me. Not instantly, but I quickly felt my life starting to change.
This is the power of connecting to a Tsaddik and following his advice. His powerful light begins to illuminate your soul. If we are willing to open our hearts and minds and follow him with faith, it will make a powerful difference in our life. The more that we try to connect to a Tsaddik and follow his advice, the more he helps us to shine our candle, the light of our soul which is rooted in the Torah.
(Inspired by a class by David Mark from Breslov Research Institute, and a workshop given by Doron Stern which I attended this week in Shomria.)
Image courteous of Chabad.org