How do we inspire others? How do we teach Judaism in a way that will cause those around us to take positive steps on their own spiritual journeys?
The same can be asked regarding our own family: What is the secret to educating our children? How do we ensure that the future generation perpetuates our values and beliefs?
Some say that we must educate with love, by showering our children with attention and compassion. Others say that education must be with discipline, by holding our children to high standards.
There is merit to each approach, and we must seek a healthy balance. Still, the Torah tells us that love must be the primary element of our education.
This is alluded to in this week’s Torah portion, Behaalotecha, which opens with the instruction for Aharon to light the menorah in the mishkan, the portable temple that was used in the desert.
The light of the menorah is also a metaphor for the soul, which, like a flame, constantly strives upward.
Although the menorah may be lit by any Jew, the Torah tells us that it was lit by Aharon. This detail emphasizes that lighting another’s flame is ideally fulfilled by Aharon, who epitomized the character trait of kindness.
The Torah is teaching us that if we wish to light the souls of others, we must emulate Aharon, and reach out with genuine love and concern. Then we will succeed in our mission.
Furthermore, the unusual expression here, to raise up the lamps (Behaalotecha), instead of using the standard word for kindling (hadlaka), teaches, that it is not sufficient to light the menorah, but rather, one must ensure that the flame will endure and burn of its own accord afterwards.
The same is true of the human candle, the soul. When we kindle another’s flame we must see to it that the fire and inspiration becomes theirs.
This can only be done with the approach of love. It may take more time, but we are assured that the inspiration will have long lasting results.
Through this approach of ahavat yisrael, love for a fellow Jew, we will hasten the coming of Moshiach now.
לזכות אריאל בן חיה ויאיר בן חיה לשנת הצלחה בכל מתוך בריאות ונחת – שימלא הקדוש ברוך הוא כל משאלות לבבם לטובה ולברכה