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The Menorah and the Mind

by Chaim Kramer

This week’s parsha is BeHa’alotkha, which refers to Aharon, the High Priest (or whichever priest) when he shall light the candles of the Menorah (Candelabrum) in the Sanctuary/Temple.

Rashi explains that there were a total of 49 decorative cups, spheres and flowers which were formed from the gold used to produce the Menorah. (For a detailed description of the Menorah, see “The Living Torah” by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan on Exodus 25:31-40).

Reb Noson teaches that these 49 units parallel the 49 levels of Binah (understanding) and the 49 Gates of Repentance, and that the values of the Menorah parallel the person himself, so that one can always repent, no matter what, as well as attain Understanding of HaShem (each on his own level).

Rebbe Nachman teaches (Likutey Moharan I, 21) that each person can attain this if he purifies his mind. How? The Zohar teaches that the Menorah parallels the “head.” As the Menorah had seven candles, so too, each person has “seven candles,” the apertures in one’s head. These are the two eyes, the two ears, the two nostrils and the mouth. A person can sanctify his eyes by avoiding looking at forbidden things and immoral acts, while looking for and finding the good and permitted. The two ears can either be receptacles for positive teachings, especially of wise people, while avoiding listening to slander, mockery, profanity and other forbidden words. With one’s nostrils, one can filter the sweet and pleasant aromas of the good deeds that can be found in one’s environment while one can reject the “bad smelling” and malodorous odors that pervade the air around us. And, of course, one must sanctify one’s mouth by staying away from falsehoods and forbidden speech.

Sanctifying one’s “skull” with its seven candles is illuminating the Menorah, one’s head. It clears the mind, allowing for clarity of thought and understanding. Also, a clear head lets the person see into his ways, whether they are positive and helpful or, G-d forbid, negative and destructive.

Thus, the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah, though speaking of the Candelabrum of the Mishkan and Temple, applies to all of us. We, too, have the ability to illumine these powerful lights. And, as Rashi explains, when we light the Menorah we can cause the flames to always rise (by themselves). That means that we will always be able to arouse our hearts so that the flame of the heart will be in tune with HaShem.

Have a great Shabbos.

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