Tzav: Burn and Turn Constantly




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    Tzav: Burn and Turn Constantly

    If you ever noticed, in almost every synagogue there is a ‘Continual Light’. Sometimes it is a small lamp hanging in front of the ‘ark’, or just a fluorescent on the wall, but it’s always there… Read the full dvar torah by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton • Full Article

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    If you ever noticed, in almost every synagogue there is a ‘Continual Light’. Sometimes it is a small lamp hanging in front of the ‘ark’, or just a fluorescent on the wall, but it’s always there. 

    The source of this custom comes from an apparently redundant sentence in this week’s Torah Portion.

    “A continual fire should burn on the Altar; it shall not be extinguished” (6:6).

    If the fire must be continual, isn’t it obvious that it should not be put out?

    Also, this sentence refers to the altar in the time of the Temple so it’s not so clear how it relates to an electric light in our synagogues today.

    To explain this here is a story about a Chassid by the name of Mendel Futerfass.

    Rabbi Mendel spent several years of his life at hard labor in a Russian Concentration camp, but, being a Chassid, he tried to keep sane positive by learning from everything he heard or saw, how to serve HaShem better.

    For instance, one of the prisoners there claimed that before his incarceration he used to be a tightrope walker in a circus.

    Rav Mendel didn’t believe him because he couldn’t imagine why a person would waste his time walking on a rope and risk falling on his head, when he could just walk on the ground like everyone else.

    But when the evil Stalin died in 1953 and the government eased up the pressure on the camps, the tightrope walker saw his chance to prove himself.

    He found a long thick rope somewhere in the camp, attached it, first to the outside of one building about ten feet above the ground and then stretched it to another building about fifteen yards away where he attached it at the same height. For several hours he was up on a ladder pulling, testing and fastening until everything was finally ready.

    A crowd gathered around, he removed his shoes and gingerly climbed up the ladder onto the rope.

    Rav Mendel was one of the first to get interested, and he told me what happened:

    “First he climbed up onto the rope, took a few steps, lost his balance and fell. But he knew how to fall; like a cat. He waited a few seconds and climbed up again and fell again the same way. But eventually he got accustomed and started walking, and then dancing from one foot to the other to the rhythm of the clapping onlookers.

    “Then he got to the end, turned around danced back to where he started and climbed down amidst the applause and cheering of the crowd.

    “After shaking everyone’s hand he walked over to me and said with a satisfied smile on his face.

    ‘Well Jew, what do you think now?’

    “I told him I was impressed, but I couldn’t help wondering how he did it, how could he walk on such a thin rope without falling off? He told me to guess and I threw out a few suggestions until finally he revealed the secret:

    ‘I always keep an eye on where I’m going and never even think about falling’.

    “He waited a few seconds for me to digest the answer, and then asked. ‘And do you know what was the hardest trick?’ When I shrugged my shoulders, he answered;

    ‘The hardest part is getting to the end and turning around! When you turn around you lose sight of the goal for a second! It takes a long time to learn to turn around!”

    “I immediately got the point” concluded Rav Mendel.

    “If you want to serve G-d, and not fall either to the right or left you have to keep your mind on the goal: do what the Rebbe wants to bring Moshiach. And even more: when things seem hopeless and no goal is in sight it’s only a sign that we must search again.”

    (Later Rab Mendel explained that this tightrope act saved his life. After many years in exile he was at a low point in his life and had given up getting out alive. The performer’s words made him realize he had to keep going, ‘turn around’ and reconnect to a higher goal.

    Now we can see how our sentence about the eternal flame is not redundant and in fact is very relevant.

    The Baal Shem Tov said it hundreds of years ago.

    If “A continual fire”, (a constant burning desire to serve HaShem,) “burns on the Altar” (in your mind and heart) then it will NOT extinguish; Namely it will extinguish all the ‘NOT’ i.e. your negative desires, fears and worries.

    This is the message of the tightrope walker; if we constantly have our minds and hearts on the goal; to reveal the Creator here in the creation (as He was in the beginning of creation, then again at Mt. Sinai, again in the Holy Temple, and finally will be in the days of Moshiach) then not only will we not fall. But even if we lose the goal we can always reconnect and improve the world.

    We can turn the entire world around. Just one more good deed, word or even thought can light a continual fire to illuminate all creation….. With the arrival of …..

    Moshiach NOW!


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    Tzav: Burn and Turn Constantly