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Parshas Behaaloscha - Discovering Your Voice - A Tribute to Rav Yehuda Parnes shlit"a

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

This Dvar Torah is dedicated to my Rebbe, Rav Yehuda Parnes shlit"a, who gave me the gift of finding my own voice within our Mesorah of the Torah shebaal peh.

דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֖ אֵלָ֑יו בְּהַֽעֲלֹֽתְךָ֙ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֔ת אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה יָאִ֖ירוּ שִׁבְעַ֥ת הַנֵּרֽוֹת: וַיַּ֤עַשׂ כֵּן֙ אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה הֶֽעֱלָ֖ה נֵֽרֹתֶ֑יהָ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־משֶֽׁה: וְזֶ֨ה מַֽעֲשֵׂ֤ה הַמְּנֹרָה֙ מִקְשָׁ֣ה זָהָ֔ב עַד־יְרֵכָ֥הּ עַד־פִּרְחָ֖הּ מִקְשָׁ֣ה הִ֑וא כַּמַּרְאֶ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶרְאָ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־משֶׁ֔ה כֵּ֥ן עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הַמְּנֹרָֽה:

"Speak to Aaron and say to him: "When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah." Aaron did so; he lit the lamps toward the face of the menorah, as the Lord had commanded Moses. This was the form of the menorah: hammered work of gold, from its base to its flower it was hammered work; according to the form that the Lord had shown Moses, so did he construct the menorah." (Bamidbar 8:2-4)

At the end of Parshas Nasso we learned about the Korbanos of the Nesiim. Our Parsha begins with the instruction to light the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. Rashi explains the juxtaposition between these two topics:

בהעלתך:למה נסמכה פרשת המנורה לפרשת הנשיאים, לפי שכשראה אהרן חנוכת הנשיאים חלשה דעתו, שלא היה עמהם בחנוכה, לא הוא ולא שבטו, אמר לו הקב"ה חייך, שלך גדולה משלהם, שאתה מדליק ומטיב את הנרות:

When you light: Why is the portion dealing with the menorah juxtaposed to the portion dealing with the chieftains? For when Aaron saw the dedication [offerings] of the chieftains, he felt distressed over not joining them in this dedication-neither he nor his tribe. So God said to him, “By your life, yours is greater than theirs, for you will light and prepare the lamps.” -

The Ramban (8:2) takes issue with Rashi's solution. Why should Aaron HaKohen be consoled through the lighting of the Menorah, which was not the exclusive right of the Kohen Gadol? Why would Aaron not have been satisfied with the daily Ketores, the chavitin (pan-fried meal offerings), or the Yom Kippur Avodah, all of which are the exclusive service of the Kohen Gadol? Furthermore, why was Aaron disappointed, since his offerings during those days of the Miluim were more than those of the princes? If he was upset that these sacrifices were mandatory and not voluntary, like those of the Nesiim, what consolation was there in the lighting of the Menorah, which is also mandatory?

Rather, the Ramban interprets this Medrash as referring to the candle lighting of Chanukah in the second Beis HaMikdash, which was brought about by the Chashmonaim, the descendants of Aaron HaKohen. The Menorah continues to be lit even after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash through the lighting of the Menorah on Chanukah. In this way, Aaron HaKohen's service lasts well beyond the offerings of the Nesiim.

As we consider Rashi and the Rambam several question arise:

  1. Tosafos Yeshanim in Yoma (24b - hadlaka lav avodah) asks, since we know that any Kohen can light the Menorah, why does the passuk specifically mention Aaron HaKohen?

  2. It is quite difficult to imagine a Tzaddik such Aaron HaKohen being dejected over the fact that he was not included in the dedication of the Nesiim. As the paradigmatic lover of all Jews (Avos 1:12) we would have expected Aaron HaKohen to be thrilled for the Nesiim who were given the opportunity to serve God in their own unique fashion. Surely Aaron understood that we each have our own role to play in serving God. Why then was Aaron HaKohen upset by his exclusion from this particular service?

  3. The above question becomes even more puzzling in light of Rashi who explains that Hashem assuaged Aaron HaKohen's feelings by saying שלך גדולה משלהם, your service (the Menorah) is greater than their service. At first glance it almost seems childish. If my five year old daughter is jealous of a treat that my three year old son has, I might say to her "don't worry I will get you a much better treat later." Surely Aaron HaKohen had no need to have a greater service than the Nessiim. Why does Hashem stress to Aaron HaKohen that he has been given the greater role?

  4. There are several differences between the Menorah that was lit in the Beis HaMikdash and the Menorah that we light on Chanukah. The Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash was lit indoors (in the Heichal), during the day, and held seven lamps. The Menorah that we light on Chanukah is lit in the outer doorways of our home, at night, and holds eight lamps? It seems that the Menorah of Chanukah has little bearing to the Menorah of the Beis HaMikdash. Why would Aaron HaKohen be consoled by the continued lighting of the Menorah if the Chanukah Menorah is something other than the Menorah of the Beis HaMikdash?

  5. The above question is compounded by the fact that every Jew lights the Menorah in their home. If Aaron HaKohen wanted a service that is exclusively for him and his family then the Chanukah Menorah certainly does not meet those requirements!

As we examine these pesukim we are struck by another interesting question.

וַיַּ֤עַשׂ כֵּן֙ אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה הֶֽעֱלָ֖ה נֵֽרֹתֶ֑יהָ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־משֶֽׁה:

"Aaron did so; he lit the lamps toward the face of the menorah, as the Lord had commanded Moses." (Bamidbar 8:3)

Rashi explains:

ויעש כן אהרן: להגיד שבחו של אהרן שלא שינה:

Aaron did so:This shows Aaron’s virtue that he did not deviate [from God’s command]. — [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1:5]

Aaron followed God's instruction and lit the lamps in such a fashion that they all faced the middle lamp. Is this an impressive feat? We would expect nothing less from Aaron HaKohen! Of course he followed God's instruction! Why then does the Torah single Aaron HaKohen out for praise in this particular area of his service?

Additionally we must ask ourselves, what is the inner meaning of the fact that the six lamps all faced the middle lamp? What are we meant to learn from this structure?

Finally, let us examine the actual construction of the Menorah:

וְזֶ֨ה מַֽעֲשֵׂ֤ה הַמְּנֹרָה֙ מִקְשָׁ֣ה זָהָ֔ב עַד־יְרֵכָ֥הּ עַד־פִּרְחָ֖הּ מִקְשָׁ֣ה הִ֑וא כַּמַּרְאֶ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶרְאָ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־משֶׁ֔ה כֵּ֥ן עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הַמְּנֹרָֽה:

"This was the form of the menorah: hammered work of gold, from its base to its flower it was hammered work; according to the form that the Lord had shown Moses, so did he construct the menorah." (Bamidbar 8:4)

The final words of the passuk, כֵּ֥ן עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הַמְּנֹרָֽה, so did he construct the Menorah, are ambiguous. Who is the "he" who actually constructed the Menorah?

Given that the passuk refers to Hashem showing Moshe the form of the Menorah, one option is that it is Moshe Rabbeinu who actually constructs the Menorah. (see Ramban 8:4 who quotes the Sifri) Alternatively, "he" refers to Betzalel who is the chief artisan of the Mishkan. (see Rashi 8:4).

A third option, brought in the Medrash Tanchuma (Behaaloscha 3), is that God Himself fashioned the Menorah.

The passuk in Shemos (25:31) says:

וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ מְנֹרַ֖ת זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר מִקְשָׁ֞ה תֵּֽיעָשֶׂ֤ה הַמְּנוֹרָה֙ יְרֵכָ֣הּ וְקָנָ֔הּ גְּבִיעֶ֛יהָ כַּפְתֹּרֶ֥יהָ וּפְרָחֶ֖יהָ מִמֶּ֥נָּה יִֽהְיֽוּ:

And you shall make a menorah of pure gold. The menorah shall be made of hammered work; its base and its stem, its goblets, its knobs, and its flowers shall [all] be [one piece] with it.

The word תֵּֽיעָשֶׂ֤ה, shall be made, is peculiar. It indicates passivity. Rashi, noting this textual anomaly, explains:

תיעשה המנורה: מאליה, לפי שהיה משה מתקשה בה, אמר לו הקב"ה השלך את הככר לאור והיא נעשית מאליה, לכך לא נכתב תעשה:

the menorah shall be made: By itself. Since Moses found difficulty with it [i.e., figuring out how to form the menorah], the Holy One, blessed is He, said to him, “Cast the talent [equivalent to sixty-four pounds of gold] into the fire, and it will be made by itself.” Therefore, it is not written: תֵּעָשֶׂה but תֵּיעָשֶׂה. -[from Tan. Beha’alothecha 3]

What is the significance, according to this third approach of the Medrash, of God Himself constructing the Menorah? What is the lesson for us?

The Wisdom of the Menorah

In order to answer these questions let us delve into the inner nature of the Menorah.

The Gemara in Basa Basra (25b) teaches that if someone desires wisdom they should daven facing southwards. One who desires wealth should daven facing northwards. These directions correspond to the Menorah and the Shulchan in the Beis HaMidash. The Shulchan (in the Heichal) represented abundance. Someone who desires wealth should face north and thus tap into the power of the Shulchan. The Menorah symbolizes Torah wisdom as the passuk in Mishlei (6:23) states כִּ֤י נֵ֣ר מִ֖צְוָה וְת֣וֹרָה א֑וֹר, a commandment is a candle and the Torah is light. One who is seeking Torah wisdom should tap into the power of the Menorah by facing south when they daven.

The Gemara in Shabbos (23a) teaches us that one who is accustomed to lighting candles will be blessed with children who are Talmidei Chachamim. The Rabbeinu Chananel explains that the candles the Gemara is referring to are specifically the lights of the Menorah. (see also Rashi who explains that the candles are both Shabbos and Chaukah neiros)

Taking this one step further we will see that in contrast to the Aron which represents Torah shebichsav, the written Torah, the Menorah represents the Torah shebaal peh, the Oral Torah. (see Sfas Emes, Chanukah 5644). The Chasam Sofer (Toras Moshe, Behaaloscha) explains that the six branches of the Menorah (three on each side) represent the six orders of the Mishnayos.

The passuk (Bamidbar 7:89) states:

וּבְבֹ֨א משֶׁ֜ה אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵד֘ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אִתּוֹ֒ וַיִּשְׁמַ֨ע אֶת־הַקּ֜וֹל מִדַּבֵּ֣ר אֵלָ֗יו מֵעַ֤ל הַכַּפֹּ֨רֶת֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־אֲרֹ֣ן הָֽעֵדֻ֔ת מִבֵּ֖ין שְׁנֵ֣י הַכְּרֻבִ֑ים וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר אֵלָֽיו:

When Moses would come into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he would hear the voice speaking to him from the two cherubim above the covering which was over the Ark of Testimony, and He spoke to him.

The Medrash in Bamdibar Rabbah (15:7) explains:

וּבְבֹא משֶׁה אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת הַקּוֹל מִדַּבֵּר, מַה דִּבֵּר אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת.

"When Moshe went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he would her the Voice speaking". What would it speak to him? "Light the lamps."

Why is Moshe specifically being told בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת?

The Ramban writes (introduction to Parshas Terumah) that the Mishkan was designed to be a place where the Shechinah could dwell as it did by Har Sinai.

והנה עקר החפץ במשכן הוא מקום מנוחת השכינה שהוא הארון, כמו שאמר (להלן כה כב) ונועדתי לך שם... וסוד המשכן הוא, שיהיה הכבוד אשר שכן על הר סיני שוכן עליו בנסתר...וכמו שאמר במתן תורה (דברים ד לו) מן השמים השמיעך את קולו ליסרך ועל הארץ הראך את אשו הגדולה, כך במשכן כתיב (במדבר ז פט) וישמע את הקול מדבר אליו מעל הכפרת מבין שני הכרובים וידבר אליו:

And behold the main object in the tabernacle is the place that the Divine presence would rest, which is the ark, as He said (Exodus 25:22), "And I will meet with you there and I will speak with you from above the ark-cover." ... And the secret of the tabernacle is that the glory of God that dwelt on Mount Sinai, [also] hiddenly dwells upon it... And as [Moshe] said at the giving of the Torah (Deuteronomy 4:36), "From the skies, He made you hear His voice, to discipline you, and upon the earth, did He show you His great fire"; so too, about the tabernacle, it is written (Numbers 7:89), "and he would hear the voice speaking to him from above the ark-cover, between the two cherubs and He would speak to him."

Just as by Matan Torah both the Torah shebichsav and the Torah shebaal peh were given over, so too by the Mishkan there was an expression of the written and the oral Torah. When the Torah writes, וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת הַקּוֹל מִדַּבֵּר, he would hear the voice speaking to him, it is a reference to the written Torah. The end of the passuk וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר אֵלָֽיו, is not actually repetitive, as it instructs Moshe to go light the Menorah, the symbolism of the oral Torah. In this fashion the Mishkan fully expresses the event at Har Sinai where both the written and the oral Torah were communicated to Klal Yisrael.

This is in line with the Targum on Shir Hashirim (3:5) which says:

אֲנָא מְעַכֵּיב יָתְהוֹן אַרְבְּעִין שְׁנִין בְּמַדְבְּרָא וּתֶהֵי אוֹרָיְתִי מִתְעָרְבָא בְּגּוּפֵיהוֹן

I will now detain them forty years in the wilderness, and My Law will be blended into their bodies.

For forty years the Torah became a part of the very fabric of our being. This explains why Aaron HaKohen lit the Menorah all forty years while Klal Yisrael was in the desert (see Seforno, Emor 24:3). While the lighting certainly could have been done by any Kohen, Aaron chose to light the Menorah because in this way he was able to transmit the Torah shebaal peh into our very essence. No wonder the Torah tells us that it is Aaron HaKohen who will be the mouth of Moshe Rabbeinu (Shemos 4:16). Moshe Rabbeinu embodies the Torah shebichsav but it is Aaron HaKohen who embodies the Torah shebaal Peh. Thus regarding the Kohanim the passuk states תּוֹרַ֤ת אֱמֶת֙ הָיְתָ֣ה בְּפִ֔יהוּ, the truth of Torah is in their mouths, and כִּֽי־שִׂפְתֵ֤י כֹהֵן֙ יִשְׁמְרוּ־דַ֔עַת, the lips of the Kohen are the keepers of knowledge.

Now that we understand that the Menorah symbolizes not only Torah but more specifically the oral we can understand why Rebbi Tarfon would celebrate a brilliant chiddush in Torah by complimenting the person kaftor vaferach, knobs and flowers. (see Bereishis Rabbah 42:38) The Menorah was adorned with beautiful knobs and flowers and as an expression of his admiration for the beauty of the novel insight, Rebbi Tarfon would compare the idea to the Menorah itself. Seen on a deeper level, Rebbi Tarfon was linking the idea to the source of the Torah shebaal Peh, the Menorah.

The Gemara in Yoma (29a) teaches that Queen Esther was likened to the dawn because just as the dawn concludes the night so too Esther is the conclusion of the miracles that were performed for Klal Yisrael. The Gemara questions this assertion given that the miracle of Chanukah occurred many years after the story of Purim. The Gemara answers that while the miracle of Chanukah did indeed take place after Purim, it was not to be recorded in the writings of Tanach. Seeing as how the miracle of Chanukah revolves around the miraculous lighting of the Menorah (which represents Torah shebaal peh) it is certainly sensible that the Chanukah miracle is to preserved specifically in the oral Torah. In fact, while much of the Torah shebaal peh was eventually written down to ensure its preservation, the miracle of Chanukah is barely mentioned. In the entire corpus of Mishna the miracle of Chanukah is only mentioned nine times and it occupies only three pages in Shas. There is no Maseches Chanukah as there is by Purim. Because Chanukah embodies the oral Torah, Rav Yehuda HaNasi did his best to keep Chanukah in its pristine state by not writing about it except tangentially.

The attempt of the Greeks to eradicate Torah was specifically a war against Torah shebaal peh. To the Yevanim the Torah shebichsav was a form of wisdom and thus worthy of their attention hence their interest in translating the written Torah into Greek (Megillah 9a, Sofrim 1:7). The Torah shebaal peh was an anathema to Greek philosophy. It represents our capacity to use our human intellect in a transcendent and spiritual fashion and to participate in divine wisdom. The Greeks agreed that divine wisdom could be communicated to a finite man but dismissed the idea that finite man can partner in the creation of the infinite wisdom of the Torah.

With this in mind we can understand why the Rambam paskens (Hilchos Chanukah 4:12) that the Mitzvah of Ner Chanukah is חֲבִיבָה הִיא עַד מְאֹד, exceptionally beloved. The Gemara in Meggilah (9b) tells us that it is permissible to translate the Torah into Greek because it is a beautiful language. The written Torah is accessible to all nations. In fact, the Medrash in Shemmos Rabbah (47:1) records a conversation between Moshe Rabbeinu and Hashem where Moshe asks Hashem if he should write down the Torah. God responds by saying that it will only partially be written down because in the future Klal Yisrael will be subservient to other nations who will then claim the Torah as their own. Therefore, God allows the Torah to be written down whereas Mishna, Talmud and Aggada were only meant to be transmitted orally so that they would remain exclusively in the domain of Klal Yisrael. Thus it is the oral Torah and not the written Torah that represents the Bris between Hashem and Klal Yisrael as the Gemara in Gittin (60b) teaches:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה כְּתָב־לְךָ֖ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה כִּ֞י עַל־פִּ֣י | הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה כָּרַ֧תִּי אִתְּךָ֛ בְּרִ֖ית וְאֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:

The Lord said to Moses: "Inscribe these words for yourself, for according to these words I have formed a covenant with you and with Israel."

Rav Yochanan explains that עַל־פִּ֣י | הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה means that because the Torah sheBaal Peh expresses our unique covenant with God we are not allowed to write down the Oral Torah.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (59a) paskens that a gentile may not learn Torah. Many of the commentators (Maharatz Chayos, Sota 35b, Netziv, Meshiv Davar 2:77) understood this prohibition as referring only to the Oral Torah. In light of the statements of Chazal above this is certainly understandable as the Torah sheBaal Peh expresses our bris with Hashem.

In fact the Medrash in Bamidbar Rabbah (15:8) makes it clear that above all God wants our lighting of the Menorah.

דָּבָר אַחֵר, בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהלים קלט, יב): גַּם חשֶׁךְ לֹא יַחְשִׁיךְ מִמֶּךָּ וְלַיְלָה כַּיּוֹם יָאִיר כַּחֲשֵׁיכָה כָּאוֹרָה, וְלָנוּ אוֹמֵר בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ אוֹהֵב, אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ תֵּדַע שֶׁאֶצְלְךָ אֲנִי סוֹעֵד, אֶלָּא לֵךְ וְתַקֵּן לִי. הָלַךְ אוֹהֲבוֹ וְהִתְקִין מִטָּה שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט, מְנוֹרָה שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט, וְשֻׁלְחָן שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט. כֵּיוָן שֶׁבָּא הַמֶּלֶךְ בָּאוּ עִמּוֹ שַׁמָּשִׁין סִבְּבוּ מִכָּן וּמִכָּן מְנוֹרָה שֶׁל זָהָב לְפָנָיו, כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאָה אוֹהֲבוֹ אֶת כָּל הַכָּבוֹד הִתְבַּיֵּשׁ וְהִטְמִין אֶת כָּל מַה שֶּׁהִתְקִין לוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַכֹּל הֶדְיוֹטוֹת, אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ לֹא אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ שֶׁאֶצְלְךָ אֲנִי סוֹעֵד, לָמָּה לֹא הִתְקַנְתָּ לִי כְּלוּם. אָמַר לוֹ אוֹהֲבוֹ רָאִיתִי אֶת כָּל הַכָּבוֹד הַזֶּה שֶׁבָּא עִמְּךָ, וְנִתְבַּיַּשְׁתִּי וְהִטְמַנְתִּי כָּל מַה שֶּׁהִתְקַנְתִּי לְךָ שֶׁהָיוּ כְּלֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת. אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ חַיֶּיךָ שֶׁאֲנִי פּוֹסֵל אֶת כָּל כֵּלַי שֶׁהֵבֵאתִי וּבִשְׁבִיל אַהֲבָתְךָ אֵינִי מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ אֶלָּא בְּשֶׁלָּךְ. וְכֵן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כֻּלּוֹ אוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דניאל ב, כב): וּנְהוֹרָא עִמֵּהּ שְׁרֵא, וְהוּא אָמַר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הַתְקִינוּ לִי מְנוֹרָה וְנֵרוֹת, מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם (שמות כה, ח): וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם, (שמות כה, לא): וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנֹרַת זָהָב טָהוֹר, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָשׂוּ בָּאת שְׁכִינָה, מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם (שמות מ, לה): וְלֹא יָכֹל משֶׁה לָבוֹא אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, מִיָּד קָרָא לְמשֶׁה (במדבר ז, פט): וּבְבֹא משֶׁה אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת הַקּוֹל מִדַּבֵּר, מַה דִּבֵּר אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת.

Another interpretation, "at your setting up" (Numbers 8:2). This is what the verse says (Psalms 139:12) "Darkness is not dark for You; night is as light as day; darkness and light are the same". And to us He says "at your setting up" -- to what is the matter similar? To a king who had a loved one. The king said, "know that I will eat with you, so go and prepare for me". The loved one went and prepared an ordinary couch, an ordinary lamp [menora], an ordinary table. When the king came, he brought his assistants around him and a golden lamp before him. When the loved one saw all the glory of the king, he became ashamed and hid all he had prepared for the king, since they all were ordinary. The king said to him, "Did I not tell you I would eat with you? Why have you prepared nothing for me?" The loved one said to him, "I saw all the glory that you came with, and I was ashamed and hid all I had prepared for you, for they were all ordinary things." The king said to him, "By your life [I swear] that I will ruin all my things that I brought with me, and for the sake of your love I will not use anything except your possessions!" And so, the Holy Blessed One is entirely light, as it is said (Daniel 2:22) "And light dwells with Him", and God says to Israel "Prepare for me a menorah and lights". Why is written there (Exodus 25:8) "And they will make me a Mikdash and I will dwell in their midst", (Exodus 25:31) "And make Me a menorah of pure gold"? So when you make it, the Shechina comes. Why is it written there (Exodus 40:35) "And Moshe was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting", immediately [God] called to Moshe (Numbers 7:89) "When Moshe went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he would her the Voice speaking". What would it speak to him? "At your setting up of the lights".

Knowing as we do that the Menorah is representative of the oral Torah, it is fascinating that the it is the lighting of the Menorah that brings the Shechinah down into this world. God does not use his other "possessions" because what He desires most is our contribution to Torah.

Now we can understand why the lights of the Chanukah Menorah are especially beloved to God because as the representation of Torah shebaal Peh they are symbolic of the exclusive relationship that Klal Yisrael has with Hashem. The Oral Torah can never be co-opted by the nations of the world. The Oral Torah that brings the Shechinah down into this world.

In fact, as Rav Hutner (Chanukah, Maamar 3) points out, Torah shebaal peh flourished as a result of the Greek war against the oral Torah. The Mishna in Chagigah (16a) teaches that during the period of the Zugos (the pairs of the Tannaim) we find the first machlokes in halacha. The Rishonim explain that this was a direct result of the conflict with the Yevanim. Due to the diminished limud haTorah, halachos were forgotten and the result was machlokes. (see also Temurah 16a, Menachos 99b, and Bereishis Rabbah 65) And while it would appear that the Greeks were victorious, machlokes itself now became a vehicle for an expansion of Torah. The arguments became an opportunity to critically examine the halacha from all angles and gave us new insights into their essence. Just as Moshe Rabbeinu was praised for the breaking of the luchos despite the fact that many halachos were forgotten, so too the war with the Greeks created a breaking of the halacha which in turn enabled a whole new dimension of the Torah shebaal peh to be revealed. And so our Chanukah victory not only confimred the eternal nature of the oral Torah but it actually took it to new heights.

Naturally, the miracle of Chanukah occurred through the Kohanim, those who embody the Torah shebaal Peh and not the Neviim. (see Ramchal Derech Hashem 4:8) The Medrash in Bereishis Rabbah (99:2) connects Yavan, the third of our exiles and made up of three letters (יון), and Levi which is the third shevet and is made up of three letters as well (לוי). Clearly as the keepers of the Torah shebaal Peh, Shevet Levi, the shevet of Aaron HaKohen, was designed to combat the Yevanim who waged war against the oral Torah.

The Menorah Brings Unity

The Gemara in Berachos (5a) teaches that both the written Torah as well as the oral Torah were given to Moshe at Har Sinai (see also Vayikrah Rabbah 22):

וְאָמַר רַבִּי לֵוִי בַּר חָמָא, אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן לָקִישׁ, מַאי דִּכְתִיב ״וְאֶתְּנָה לְךָ אֶת לֻחֹת הָאֶבֶן וְהַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר כָּתַבְתִּי לְהוֹרֹתָם״. ״לֻחֹת״ — אֵלּוּ עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ״תּוֹרָה״ — זֶה מִקְרָא, ״וְהַמִּצְוָה״ — זוֹ מִשְׁנָה, ״אֲשֶׁר כָּתַבְתִּי״ — אֵלּוּ נְבִיאִים וּכְתוּבִים, ״לְהוֹרוֹתָם״ — זֶה תַּלְמוּד, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁכּוּלָּם נִתְּנוּ לְמֹשֶׁה מִסִּינַי.

And Rabbi Levi bar Ḥama said that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: God said to Moses, “Ascend to me on the mountain and be there, and I will give you the stone tablets and the Torah and the mitzva that I have written that you may teach them” (Exodus 24:12), meaning that God revealed to Moses not only the Written Torah, but all of Torah, as it would be transmitted through the generations.

The “tablets” are the ten commandments that were written on the tablets of the Covenant,

the “Torah” is the five books of Moses.

The “mitzva” is the Mishna, which includes explanations for the mitzvot and how they are to be performed.

“That I have written” refers to the Prophets and Writings, written with divine inspiration.

“That you may teach them” refers to the Talmud, which explains the Mishna.

These explanations are the foundation for the rulings of practical halakha. This verse teaches that all aspects of Torah were given to Moses from Sinai.

Every single Jew has their source in Torah. The very word Yisrael is an acronym for יש שישים ריבוא אותיות לתורה there are 600,000 letters in the Torah. Each one of us has a God given mouth that we are meant to use to explicate the Torah. In this way we all participate in the creation of the oral Torah. But our chiddush is not new. All of the chiddushim that we have ever conceived, were already given to Moshe at Har Sinai. This concept is expressed in the Neiros of Chanukah. The Gemara in Baba Kamma (3b) teaches that fire is unique in that other forces (ie. people, wind etc..) can spread the original flame. However, even if other forces do participate in perpetuating or increasing the fire, the fire is the action of the original igniter of the fire (Baba Kamma 23a). The initial fire is ignited at Har Sinai. We are other "other forces" that perpetuate and increase that fire but ultimately it is also linked back to Har Sinai. Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (OC Siman 139) paskens that when we make a Birchas HaTorah the phrase אשר נתן לנו תורת אמת refers to the written Torah whereas וחיי עולם נטע בתוכנו refers to the Oral Torah. The Torah shebichsav and the Torah shebaal peh are one unit with one bracha.

No wonder that the discussion regarding our capacity to say אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ, Who has made us holy through His commandments and has commanded us, on a Rabbinic Mitzvah is discussed specifically in the sugya of Chanukah.

מַאי מְבָרֵךְ? — מְבָרֵךְ: ״אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חֲנוּכָּה״. וְהֵיכָן צִוָּנוּ? רַב אַוְיָא אָמַר: מִ״לֹּא תָסוּר״. רַב נְחֶמְיָה אָמַר: ״שְׁאַל אָבִיךָ וְיַגֵּדְךָ זְקֵנֶיךָ וְיֹאמְרוּ לָךְ״.

And what blessing does one recite? He recites: Who has made us holy through His commandments and has commanded us to light the Hanukkah light. The Gemara asks: And where did He command us? The mitzva of Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Torah, so how is it possible to say that it was commanded to us by God? The Gemara answers that Rav Avya said: The obligation to recite this blessing is derived from the verse: “You shall not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto you, to the right, nor to the left” (Deuteronomy 17:11). From this verse, the mitzva incumbent upon all of Israel to heed the statements and decrees of the Sages is derived. Therefore, one who fulfills their directives fulfills a divine commandment. Rav Neḥemya said that the mitzva to heed the voice of the Elders of Israel is derived from the verse: “Ask your father, and he will declare unto you, your Elders, and they will tell you” (Deuteronomy 32:7).

Every Rabbinic Mitzvah has its roots in the Torah given at Har Sinai. It is as if God Himself has commanded us to perform them. While there were many other Mitzvos that the Gemara could have used to express this idea, the Chanukah Menorah, representative of the Torah shebaal peh and its unique relationship to the Torah shebichsaav, is the perfect opportunity to express this idea.

We are now ready to understand the significance of construction of the Menorah.

The Alshich explained that the Menorah was fashioned from a single chunk of gold and not a composite of various pieces because the fundamental mission of the Menorah is to reveal the underlying unity of creation and therefore it can only be made from one piece of gold. Along these lines we can humbly suggest that the Menorah does not just symbolize the Torah shebaal Peh, it also expresses the unity of the Torah shebaal peh and the Torah shebichsav. Both the written and the oral Torah are expressions of a divine wisdom. They are one piece of gold.

Understanding that the Menorah symbolizes unity allows us to understand an interesting Rambam. The Rambam finishes off the section of Hilchos Chanukah (4:14) by paskening that if a person has the means to perform only one of two mitzvos, lighting the Shabbos candles or a Chanukah Menorah, the Shabbos candles are given priority, since it generates shalom bayis, peace within the home. Why doesn't the Rambam teach us this halacha in Hilchos Shabbos? This question is bolstered by the fact that the Rambam continues and says that if one had to choose between Kiddush and Shabbos candles the Shabbos candles are given priority. Given that there is no Mitzvah of Kiddush on Chanukah it seems that these halachos would have been more appropriately placed in Hilchos Shabbos!

Peace means more than just an absence of conflict. It is the revelation of the underlying unity of all things. Given that the Menorah represents the unity of the Torah shebichsav and the Torah shebaal peh, and that the Torah is the blueprint for creation (see Bereishis Rabbah 1:1), it is appropriate that the Rambam placed the halachos that address the issue of unity in Hilchos Chanukah. The Rambam concludes the Halachos of Chanukah by highlighting unity as central theme of the Yom Tov.

The Alter Rebbe in Likutei Torah explains that the seven flames of the Menorah represent seven different types of soul. Each soul is identified with one of the seven sefiros. (In truth we all a composite of the each of the seven sefiros and our identification with a particular sefira is because that particular attribute of our personality is the most pronounced.) It is Aaron HaKohen, the lover and pursuer of peace, who has the capacity to unite every single Jew as represented in the seven lmaps of the Menorah. Perhaps we can now add that in unifying Klal Yisrael, Aaron is uniting each one of us with our unique source in the Torah. On our own we are solo acts but when we make our individual contributions to the Torah shebaal peh together we can make the most beautiful harmonies. Each of us has a unique voice (peh) to contribute. Just as the written Torah is pasul when it is missing even one letter, so too, it is only when we all share our various chiddushim that the Torah shebaal peh is complete. When we fail to contribute our own insights and ideas, all of Klal Yisrael is losing out.

With this in mind we can now understand the significance of the six lamps facing the middle lamp. The Torah shebichsav is the central point from which all of Torah shebaal peh flows. The Gemara in Menachos (29b) explains this idea in fascinating fashion:

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב בשעה שעלה משה למרום מצאו להקב"ה שיושב וקושר כתרים לאותיות אמר לפניורבש"ע מי מעכב על ידךאמר לואדם אחד יש שעתיד להיות בסוף כמה דורות ועקיבא בן יוסף שמו שעתיד לדרוש על כל קוץ וקוץ תילין תילין של הלכותאמר לפניורבש"ע הראהו ליאמר לוחזור לאחורךהלך וישב בסוף שמונה שורות ולא היה יודע מה הן אומרים תשש כחוכיון שהגיע לדבר אחד אמרו לו תלמידיו רבי מנין לך אמר להן הלכה למשה מסיני נתיישבה דעתו

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: When Moses ascended on High, he found the Holy One, Blessed be He, sitting and tying crowns on the letters of the Torah. Moses said before God: Master of the Universe, who is preventing You from giving the Torah without these additions? God said to him: There is a man who is destined to be born after several generations, and Akiva ben Yosef is his name; he is destined to derive from each and every thorn of these crowns mounds upon mounds of halakhot. It is for his sake that the crowns must be added to the letters of the Torah. Moses said before God: Master of the Universe, show him to me. God said to him: Return behind you. Moses went and sat at the end of the eighth row in Rabbi Akiva’s study hall and did not understand what they were saying. Moses’ strength waned. When Rabbi Akiva arrived at the discussion of one matter, his students said to him: My teacher, from where do you derive this? Rabbi Akiva said to them: It is a halakha transmitted to Moses from Sinai. When Moses heard this, his mind was put at ease.

The message of the Gemara is fascinating. Rav Akiva is darshening halachos from the crowns of the Torah. Even Moshe Rabbbeinu can't understand the profundity of Rav Akiva's shiur. Why then is Moshe Rabbeinu put at ease when Rav Akiva explains that his message was given to Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai? Rashi explains that Moshe was appeased because he understood that eventually God would reveal to him these halachos as well. In other words, Moshe was disturbed by the fact that the Torah being transmitted by Rav Akiva was not connected to the Torah that Moshe received at Har Sinai. The Torah shebaal peh must be an explication of the Torah shebichsav. It should not and cannot stand on its own. But when Moshe heard from Rav Akiva that the halachos he was teaching were given to Moshe at Har Sinai he was reassured that the Mesorah was intact. The Torah shebaal Peh remained united to the Torah shebichsav.

Each one the seven branches of the Menorah correspond to one of the seven shepherds: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aaron, Yosef and Dovid. The middle lamp, the fourth lamp, represents the fourth shepherd which is Moshe Rabbeinu. All six of the lamps of the Menorah must face the middle lamp which is the representation of Moshe. Aaron HaKohen is praised for lighting the Menorah as God commanded. He is not simply being praised for listening to the instructions of Hashem but rather because as the representative of Torah shebaal peh, Aaron was able to light the Menorah in a fashion that represents the unity of the oral and written Torah. A failure to do so would have been a failure in the very essence of the Menorah which is designed to express the unity of the Torah.

With this in mind we can understand why Moshe Rabbeinu specifically davens for the future victory of the Chashmonaim over the Greeks. Where do we find such a Teffilah? The passuk in Devarim (33:11) states:

בָּרֵ֤ךְ יְהֹוָה֙ חֵיל֔וֹ וּפֹ֥עַל יָדָ֖יו תִּרְצֶ֑ה מְחַ֨ץ מָתְנַ֧יִם קָמָ֛יו וּמְשַׂנְאָ֖יו מִן־יְקוּמֽוּן:

"May the Lord bless his army and favorably accept the work of his hands; strike the loins of those who rise up against him and his enemies, so that they will not recover."

Rashi based on the Medrash explains:

ראה שעתידין חשמונאי ובניו להלחם עם היונים והתפלל עליהם לפי שהיו מועטים י"ב בני חשמונאי ואלעזר כנגד כמה רבבות, לכך נאמר ברך ה' חילו ופועל ידיו תרצה

Moses saw [prophetically] that the Hasmonean and his sons were destined to wage war with the Greeks. He therefore prayed for them, because they were few in number, namely, the twelve sons of the Hasmonean and Eleazar, against many myriads [of the enemy]. Hence, Moses said here:“May the Lord bless his army (חֵילוֹ) and favorably accept the work of his hands.”

As we previously stated, the Greeks waged a war against the Torah shebaal peh. They took no issue with the written Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu. And yet Moshe Rabbeinu davens for the victory of the Chasmonaim precisely because the Menorah speaks to the unity of the oral and written Torah. An attack of the Torah shebaal peh is an attack on the Torah shebichsav. They cannot be separated.

And while Aaron HaKohen has the capacity to light such a Menorah, the Medrash suggests that it is only God who can construct the Menorah. The symbolism of Hashem fashioning the Menorah is that God is sanctioning so to speak the human voice as a partner in a divine wisdom. No mortal could ever express the unfathomable unity of the Menorah.

Every Jew Has A Voice

Thus far we have explained that is Aaron Hakohen who specifically lights the Menorah in the Midbar, despite the fact that it could be done by any of the Kohanim, because he is investing the power of the Torah shebaal peh into our very essence. The Menorah not only represents the oral Torah but its unity with the written Torah.

But why was Aaron HaKohen dejected when he was not included in the dedication offerings of the Nesiim? Why was it important for Hashem to tell Aaron HaKohen that his service would be greater than theirs? How does the Menorah of Chanukah relate to the lighting of the Menorah when they are clearly two distinct entities? As we pointed out above, any person can light the Chanukah Menorah, not just the Kohanim. Why then does this raise Aaron's spirits?

The Torah does not waste any words and yet when it comes to the Korbanos of the Nesiim the Torah tells us in 71 pesukim the exact details of the Korbanos that were brought. This is especially puzzling in light of the fact that every single one of the Korbanos were exactly the same! Why then did the Torah not just tell us that each of the twelve Nesiim brought this one Korban?

Furthermore, the Medrash compares the offerings of the Nesiim to the song that Klal Yisrael sang by Kerias Yam Suf. Just as as we said then Zeh Keli V'anveihu, this is my God and I will glorify Him, (Shemos 15:2 ) so too by the Korbanos of the Neissim it says Zeh Korban Nachshon ben Aminadav, this is the offering of Nachshon son of Aminadav (Bamidbar 7:17). The Medrash further compares the Korbanos of the Nesiim to the Luchos about which it says “m’zeh um’zeh hem kesuvim, on this side and on this side were they written (Shemos 32:15). Just as the Luchos were beloved to God so too the Korbanos of the Nessiim were beloved to God. What message is the Medrash conveying to us?

The fact that the Torah lists every one of the Korbanos of the Nesiim tells us that while externally they may have appeared to be the same, in truth they were all brought in a unique fashion. In others words, what they gave may have been the same but how they gave it was unique to that Nasi's particular soul. This explains the connection to Az Yashir. How could every single Jew collectively say Zeh Keli V'anveihu, this is my God and I will glorify Him. How could everyone's God be their personal God? Because while everyone went through the Yam Suf together, each person experienced something completely different. One event with 600,000 varied experiences of that event. Their personal miraculous salvation allowed them to declare that each one of them had a personal relationship with God.

We can now understand the comparison to the Luchos as well that were written through and through.The Gemara in Shabbos (104a) explains that the Luchos were miraculously written in a fashion that could be read from either side. In other words, viewed from multiple perspectives (from in front of from behind) the truth of the Luchos was apparent. Each one of us reads the Luchos from a different perspective acocrding to the individual nature of our soul but we are all connected to the essential truth that the inheres within the Luchos.

This allows us to explain why Aaron was dejected when he was unable to participate in the dedication offerings of the Nesiim. Aaron was not chas v'shalom jealous of the Nesiim. He valued the fact that they had an incredible opportunity to make their own unique contribution. But Aaron was concerned, when will I have the opportunity to make my unique contribution. Which service in the Mishkan will give me the opportunity to share my voice? To this Hashem responds that it is the Menorah, the Torah shebaal Peh, which will give Aaron HaKohen the opportunity to share his own unique voice. And not only will Aaron have the ability to share his voice but it is the voice of Aaron HaKohen who paves the way for everyone in Klal Yisrael to find their own voice as well. This is the inner meaning of שלך גדולה משלהם, yours (Aaron) will be greater than theirs (the Nesiim). Hashem was not trying to appease Aaron HaKohen by telling him that his service was greater. Rather Hashem was explaining to Aaron that while the Nesiim did express their own unique creativity through their offerings, the Menorah is the all encompassing circle which includes all of Torah shebaal peh for all generations to come. This explains why the passuk specifically uses the language בְּהַֽעֲלֹֽתְךָ֙ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֔ת which literally means when you raise the light. Rashi explains that for the flame to be considered lit, it must be able to stand on its own. Through the lighting of the Menorah, Aaron HaKohen raises up our own flame of Torah and imbues within us the power to find our voice in the Torah shebaal peh.

The Zohar (quoted in the Malbim, Eretz Chemda) connects the words וַיַּ֤עַשׂ כֵּן֙ אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן, Aaron did so, to the creation of light in Bereishis.

Regarding the creation of light the passuk tells us:

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִי־א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר:

"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light." (Bereishis 1:3)

In contrast, to the words וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר, everywhere else in creation the Torah says, וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן. For example:

וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֘ אֶת־הָֽרָקִיעַ֒ וַיַּבְדֵּ֗ל בֵּ֤ין הַמַּ֨יִם֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ מִתַּ֣חַת לָֽרָקִ֔יעַ וּבֵ֣ין הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעַ֣ל לָֽרָקִ֑יעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן:

"And God made the expanse and it separated between the water that was below the expanse and the water that was above the expanse, and it was so." (Bereishis 1:7)

Chazal explains (Rashi Bereishis 1:4) that the original light of creation was hidden away for Tzaddikim in the future. In other words, every other aspect of creation is complete and therefore the Torah appropriately states, וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן, and it was so. However because the light of creation was to be hidden away the Torah could not attest to its completion and therefore simply says וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר, and there was light. However, the Zohar explains that when Aaron Hakohen lit the Menorah the light of creation was now completed. This explains why the Torah uses the phrase וַיַּ֤עַשׂ כֵּן֙ אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן. Aaron brought the וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן to the original light of creation.

The Rokeach explains that before Hashem hid this light away for the Tzaddikim in the future, it shined for thirty six hours which correspond to the thirty six neiros that we light on Chanukah. Given that the Menorah represents Torah shebaal peh it is no wonder that we find thirty six masechtos in Shas. The original light of creation that is stored away for the future can be found hidden in the oral Torah.

We can now understand the connection between the Chanukah Menorah and the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. The Beis HaMikdash is a place where Godliness is more transparent than the rest of the world. The Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash openly revealed the unity of the oral and written Torah. This explains why in the Beis HaMikdash the Menorah was only made with seven lamps. Seven signifies the completion of the natural order. It aslo explains why it was lit indoors and during the day time when everything is openly revealed and clear to see.

The Chanukah Menorah is an extension of the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash but because we are in golus it must play a different role. The Chanukah Menorah is meant to illuminate the darkness. It is lit at night and outside, engaging the hester panim of our world. This is reflected in the halacha (Shabbos 21b) that the neiros Chanukah should burn until the feet of the Tarmudites depart from the marketplace. The word "Tarmud" shares the root of the word mored, to rebel. The lights of Chanukah speak to our capacity to rebel against God when His presence is not clearly manifest in our world. For this reason the Chanukah Menorah has eight lights and not seven. In order to reveal the unity of creation in Golus we have to transcend (eight) the natural order (seven).

It is now clear why Aaron HaKohen was appeased when he was told that the service of the Menorah was his. In the Midbar Aaron HaKohen lit the Menorah to instill in Klal Yisrael the power of the Torah shebaal peh. In the Mikdash, where Godliness was apparent, it meant revealing the underlying unity of Torah shebichsav and Torah shebaal peh. In Golus we survive because Aaron HaKohen gave us the capacity to illuminate the darkness of Golus by tapping into the original light of creation. When the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed the world must have predicted that Yiddishkeit would not survive. How could we survive in a world devoid of a central place of worship? But because of Aaron HaKohen the Torah shebaal peh travels inside of us wherever we go. Our own voice is intimately connected with the voice of the divine. Instead of a Beis HaMikdash we established Yeshivas where one would learn how to sing the song of Torah shebaal peh. This explains why Rav Yochanan ben Zakkai asked Vespasian to spare Yavneh and its sages (Gittin 56b) when the Beis HaMidash. As long as there are Yeshivas where we continue to pass down the Mesorah of Torah shebaal peh Klal Yisrael can survive in golus. (This may also explain why the Gemara in Brachos (17a) tells us that Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai was always first to say shalom to another, even to a gentile. As we explained above, shalom means a recognition of the underlying unity of creation. Rav Yochanan was able to say shalom first to every person because he was able to recognize the Godliness in every person, Jew and gentile alike. No wonder it was Rav Yochanan who understood that it would be through the Yeshivas that Klal Yisrael would continue to uncover the unity of creation.)

Though the Menorah in golus is not lit by the Kohanim, it continues to be the legacy of Aaron HaKohen. Every Jew finds their connection to God, even in the darkness of exile, through the Menorah that Aaron lit.

On a personal note, I would like to express the immeasurable hakaras hatov that I have to my own Rebbe, Rav Yehuda Parnes shlit"a. For eight years I had the exceptional privilege of learning from one of the preeminent Talmidei Chachamim of our generation. And while the shiur that Rebbe delivered was a brilliant work of art, that was not what made the shiur unique. Many Talmidei Chachamim can give a brilliant analysis of a sugya. What made our Rebbe so unique is that he taught us how to think. Rebbe taught us how to ask a question and how to formulate our answers. Rebbe taught us what to say and just as importantly, Rebbe taught us what not to say. Rebbe demanded from us that we show up to shiur well prepared with thoughtful and analytical insights ready to be delivered when called upon. If we did not live up to Rebbe's expectations his critiques could be scathing. When Rebbe told us that we were on the mark there was no greater feeling of accomplishment. When the time came to leave our Rebbe's shiur and move on to the next stage in life, we were well prepared to continue learning b'iyun well beyond our Yeshiva years. Our Rebbe taught us how to find our own voice, to come up with innovative sevaras of our own, so that we could be the next link in the chain of the Mesorah. As I write these words I must admit that my eyes have welled up with tears, making it difficult to read the screen in front of me. Without Rebbe I would not have a place in the Torah world. And for being the Aaron HaKohen in my life, I simply will never be able to express my complete hakaras hatov. All I can do for my Rebbe is to continue his unparalleled legacy, by teaching others the lesson that Rebbe taught me; every single one of us has a unique contribution that we are meant to make in the Torah shebaal peh.



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