Friday, July 30, 2010

a menorah of parts

With all the blogging on more philosophical topics this week I have been remiss in posting something about parsha. It’s late in the day, but not too late for a quick idea:

The Midrash opens the parsha with a halachic question: May one move a “menorah shel perakim,” a candelabra composed of interlocking parts, on Shabbos? The Midrash answers that this is prohibited because of boneh. The Midrash then proceeds to expound on the significance Shabbos and the merit of celebrating Shabbos, but it never clarifies the relevance of that initial halachic query to the homiletic message or to our parsha.

Perhaps we are the candelabra the Midrash is speaking of, as it is our job to shine the light of Torah into the world. Yet, as a people we are not whole. We are like a candelabra of interlocking pieces that can easily crumble if moved. Even when the day of Shabbos comes, the day which brings peace and harmony into the world, the menorah of parts may not be moved lest it collapse. It’s our job to make that menorah whole before Shabbos comes.

It’s not only as a people that we are a menorah shel perakim, but even as individuals we often feel like we are composed of different parts, as different demands and values pull us in different directions. Shabbos cannot put the menorah together. The work of “boneh” must be done before Shabbos starts.

Only if that can be achieved can we enjoy the full splendor of Shabbos as it should be celebrated.

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