19 Feb The Miraculous Makeup of the Menorah
The menorah in the Beis HaMikdash had an extremely unique and complex property. The Torah insisted that all of its intricate craftsmanship and detail should be made out of one solid piece of gold. It was so complicated to manufacture all of its cups, flowers, balls and branches out of one solid piece, that Moshe Rabbeinu couldn’t figure out how to do it. Hashem Himself had to demonstrate how it should be manufactured. What was the purpose of this unusual insistence on miksha achas, that it must be from a single block of gold. The simple explanation is that the menorah represents chochmas haTorah, as it says, “Ki ner mitzvah v’Torah ohr – The mitzvah is the lamp while Torah is the Light.”
When it comes to Torah, it’s a package deal. We can’t just take upon ourselves a part of it. We’re not allowed to say, ‘I’ll do it all, but I have to go mixed swimming.’ We can’t pick and choose. So, for example, we can’t decide, ‘I’ll do everything, but I can’t give up on green chili or my morning bacon.’ We can’t say, ‘Getting up in the morning for shacharis is just not for me.’ This is also the reason that a sefer Torah which has even one missing letter is pasul, unfit. Likewise, if a person leaves out even one law, he is not living a proper Torah life.
But, there is another reason why the Torah insists that the menorah be made from a single block of gold. The Parsha HaMachkima explains that it’s to convey that learning Torah should be consistent, without any breaks. Our life should be one solid experience of Torah, not a sporadic experience which is symbolized by a candelabra made of different parts. The discipline of Torah is not like riding a bike. Even if you haven’t been on a bike for 20 years, you could go right back on again and it’s like you never stopped. The same thing is true about playing chess. A good chess player could have a hiatus where he was away from the board for decades and yet, put him in front of a game and he feels right at home. Torah study is not that way. The Gemora tells us in Berachos the verse states, “Hasoif einecha bo, v’einenu – If you close your eyes from It (the Torah), It is gone.” The Torah does not brook being ignored.
But, there is another angle to this. The Medrash Talpios asks an unusual question. What is the most important posuk in the Torah? One opinion is the posuk, “V’ahovtah l’rei-echa k’mocha – Love your fellow like yourself.” The second opinion is the posuk, “Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem echad,” the critical proclamation of our acceptance of the yoke of Heaven. It’s the third opinion that is very novel. It’s the verse, “Es hakeves ha-echad ta-aseh baboker, v’es hakeves hasheni ta-aseh bein harboim – The one sheep you should offer in the morning and the second you should offer in the afternoon.” This posuk refers to the perpetual tamid offering which was brought without fail every day of the year, every morning and every afternoon without fail in the Beis HaMikdash.
The Medrash elaborates that it is consistency in one’s learning that allows for Torah success and excellence. It is the secret behind Daf HaYomi. One looks at the many volumes of Shas and it appears alarmingly daunting. How is it possible to finish Shabbos, Baba Basra, Yevomos, Shevuos, Kerisos, Niddah, to name but a few? It seems to be beyond the reach of a mere mortal. Two thousand, seven hundred and eleven blat can be overwhelming. But if studied one blat every day without fail, it is within our reach. Similarly, Shisha Sidrei Mishna, with all of its complex masechtos such as Keloyim and Shviis, Negaim and Ohalos, just to name a few, would seem to be beyond the ability of many people. But if you just learn two mishnayos every day, Shas Mishnayos will be yours in six years!
I remember when I was in the Yeshiva Staten Island in the 1970s, there were boys who had a 15-minute seder in Navi after shacharis. They came late to breakfast; maybe their oatmeal wasn’t that hot. But, I remember because of these consistent 15-minutes, they finished – more than once – all 24 Sifrei Tanach.
May it be the will of Hashem that we succeed in accepting upon ourselves the entire Torah with no exceptions, and that we manage to carve in our daily and nightly schedules a perpetual time for Torah study, and in that zchus may we be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
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Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss