Perhaps one of the most important principles of Jewish life that each of us tries to pass on to our children is the concept of "according to the effort is the reward". (Avot ch. 5, end) We all understand that you must make an effort to get results, but is there a spiritual connection? The Sefat Emet gives us an insight based on this week's portion that not only should help us understand the "system", but also should encourage us to push ahead, even when it is really hard.

Only when the inner divine strength elevates something back to its source can it continue forever….

The first verse of the portion begins:
"And you should command the Jewish people, take for yourself clear pressed olive oil for the lamp, to raise up a continuous flame". (Ex. 27:20)

On the words "to raise up a continuous flame", Rashi explains that one must ignite it until there will be a flame that is able to rise up on its own. How does this apply to us? A person must realize that when he does anything of value, it is not with his own human ability and strength alone - rather, each time he acts, he arouses divine power. G‑d put a point of holiness within each person's soul. When a person truly makes an effort, then the power he or she applies engages inner divine strength, resonating one on the other, allowing the divine power to awaken and express itself. This is the inner meaning of Rashi's comment, that one must light the flame until it, the inner power, is able to rise up and do its part, unassisted. It is only when this happens that the result of our actions are established and can continue unimpeded. Something that is done seemingly with human strength alone is temporary; only something impacted by the inner divine strength can be everlasting.

Later in the next verse we also have the words, "arrange it". Our main effort has to be to arrange things, to put each thing, ready, in its place. If we do that, the inner divine power will guarantee that those elements will cleave to their source. Through this, we fulfill the verse - "…to raise up a continuous flame". Only when the inner divine strength elevates something back to its source can it continue forever.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe takes it a step further: Who is commanded to light the lamps? The Kohen, the priest who spent all of his time serving G‑d. Today, in a certain sense, every person who takes upon him/herself to serve G‑d is considered to be a Kohen. Just as the Kohen was commanded to light the Menorah, so also each person is obligated to light up the soul of another Jew. How is this done? Until the other person's "flame", i.e. their soul, can continue to shine unassisted. And what is the measure? The verse says, "until morning" - referring to the dawn of the Age of Mashiach, when the whole world will be illuminated with G‑d's light.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul


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