For the week of February 15, 2003 / 13 Adar 5763
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 27:20 - 30:10
Haftarah: Ezekiel 43:10-27
Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning (Shemot / Exodus 27:20).
This week continues God's directions to Moses concerning the building of the Mishkan (English: Tabernacle), the modular structure that was to be the center of the worship for the people of Israel. Last week we looked at the two-part structure inside the Mishkan called hakodesh (the Holy Place) and kodesh hakedashim (the Holy of Holies).
One of the articles in the Holy Place was the menorah (English: lampstand). The menorah was a seven-branched, standing oil lamp that illuminated the Holy Place. According to this week's portion the lamps were to burn continually.
Light is the first thing we read that God created: "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light" (Bereshit / Genesis 1:3). We all know how important light is. Not only do we need it to see properly, all living things depend on it.
In the Bible light means more than physical light. It also refers to understanding, knowledge, hope, awareness, and good perspective. Just like physical light enables us to interact effectively with the natural environment, so spiritual light enables us to interact effectively with life in general.
We are actually more dependant upon spiritual light than upon physical light. While we might be able to see and avoid the literal dips and bumps on the road ahead, without good spiritual light, we will find ourselves adversely affected by the hazards of life.
Life can be very confusing. We are daily bombarded by many opinions from all kinds of sources. The opinions of leaders and peers influence our thinking. But whom are we to believe? How can we know the truth?
Thankfully there is an eternal light burning. It is God's light and it is available to all of us. We can know this light through the Scriptures. As we read in the Psalms:
By knowing what God is saying to us we can live life properly. We needn't struggle through these dark days, blindly groping for direction. God's light will show us the way.
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