"You will command the Children of Israel, and they shall take for you clear olive oil, crushed, for illumination, to light a lamp [the Menorah] continuously."(Ex. 27:20)

The Western Flame...burned...all night, testifying that the Shechinah dwells in Israel.

The Western Flame1, the most prominent of the Menorah's seven branches, was a Ner Tamid (Eternal Lamp); it would burn from evening to evening, all night, testifying that the Shechinah dwells in Israel. This lamp needed to be lit from the purest olive oil, from the first pressing of the olives.2

What is the significance? The olive is bitter; this represents the concealment of G‑d's supervision of His Creation. A person therefore may think that there is no law and no judge. There are two paths to straighten out this misunderstanding. One is called the Path of Suffering (Heaven protect us), where through difficulties and pain a person improves his actions. The second is the Path of Torah, where through understanding and contemplation in the ways of G‑d, one comes to see the goodness of Divine Providence.

This lack of understanding is symbolized by the olive, which is bitter, but can be crushed, smashed and hit in order to release the light buried within. This is the "crushing for illumination" referred to in our verse; after the crushing, which is the suffering that precedes the path of Torah, a person comes to illumination. From the crushing of the olive light is revealed; the person merits to see that all of the concealments were for the sake of good. And therefore, it burned the entire night, for "night" represents concealment and darkness, which after the crushing becomes illuminated.

This is why it is written, "And they will take for you."(Ibid.) The Nation of Israel together, unified, will supply the oil for the Westernmost Lamp. In holy books it is written that the word for "Western," "Ma'aravi," comes from the word Me'urav, as in the phrase, "me'urav im habriyos" – [a person who] mixes well [and gets along] with others.

Each person is important in his own right, although people’s minds and personalities are different.

Each of the other six Menorah flames were angled towards the Westernmost Flame, to indicate that all of the flames were equal (in harmony). This shows that each person is important in his own right, although people’s minds and personalities are different.

This unity testifies that the Al-mighty manifests His Shechinah in Israel. Indeed, the word Shechinah is numerically equal to Safa ['language' in Hebrew]: 385. And so it is written in Zephaniah: "For then I will change all of the nations to a clear language, for all to call in the Name of G‑d, to serve him with one shoulder." (3:9) So too, the opening word of this Torah portion, "Tetzaveh" [lit. "you shall command"], is related to the Aramaic word for "connection" and thus to the unifying process.

The pure oil which burned on the Menorah represents Torah study. The entire Menorah, —its base, branches, flowers and apples—was beaten from one piece of gold. Its base represents those who support and help a Torah Scholar. The knobs are those who are busy with acts of kindness. The flowers are those who study Torah. All of them are beaten from one piece of gold so that each one needs the other. So too it is impossible for one person to be arrogant towards another.

When there is unity, the Menorah shines to the entire world.

Delivered orally; translated by David Devor from his notes and extensively edited by KabbalaOnline.org staff.

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.