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These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Israel … (Devarim 1:1).
The Vilna Goan in the sefer Aderes Eliyahu explains that the features and dimensions of the Menorah used in the Beis Hamikdash are hinted to in the first posukim of each one of the five books of the Torah. The Menorah has seven braches. This corresponds to the first posuk in sefer Bereishis which has seven words. The Menorah has thirteen knobs. This corresponds to the first posuk of sefer Shemos which has thirteen words. The Menorah has nine flowers. This corresponds to first posuk in sefer Vayikrah which has nine words. The Menorah, without its legs was seventeen tefachim in height. This corresponds to the first posuk in sefer Bamidbar which has seventeen words. Finally, the Menorah has twenty-two goblets. This corresponds to the first posuk of sefer Devarim which has twenty-two words.
We learn from this that sefer Devarim corresponds to the goblets of the Menorah. Perhaps by analyzing the function and nature of the goblets we can gain insight into the nature and purpose of sefer Devarim.
Before we begin let us review how the goblets were shaped and positioned on the Menorah. Chazal tell us that the goblets were shaped like long narrow cups. Near the top of each one of the seven braches were a set of three goblets, positioned one on top of the other. There was one more goblet near the bottom of the central stem of the Menorah. In total there were twenty-two.
The Chizkuni and other commentators explain the goblets were not purely decorative but provided an important function. On the very top of the Menorah were lamps. Oil and wicks were placed in the lamps and were lit daily by the kohanim. If oil were to drip or spill from a lamp it would slide down the branch into the uppermost goblet. When this goblet was full, the oil would overflow into the second goblet beneath it. When this goblet was full, it would overflow into the third goblet beneath it. When all three goblets of a single branch were full, the oil would slide down the branch to the center stem of the Menorah and fill the goblet that was positioned near the bottom.
We learn from this that the goblets function was to preserve the holy oil that spilled from the lamps and thereby prevent it from going to waste or being destroyed.
Chazal tell us that Torah is compared to oil. Ideally, the oil of the Menorah should rest in the lamps on the top and produce light. This is symbolic that ideally, Torah should be elevated, cherished and illuminate the entire world. However, sometimes the oil drips or spills from the lamps. This is symbolic that sometimes in our history the Torah will go into galus. On the Menorah there were goblets whose function was to preserve the oil. Thus when the Torah goes into galus care must be taken for its preservation. Furthermore, we note that the Menorah had a four step process of preservation. This is symbolic of the four major exiles of the Jewish people, Bavel, Madai, Yavan and Edom. In each exile the Torah must be preserved.
The Gemara (Menachos 28b) explains that the goblets of the Menorah looked like goblets that were common in Alexandria. Rashi there explains that this refers to the famous large city of Alexandria in Egypt. Why was there a reminder of Egypt in one of the most holy utensils of the Beis Hamikdash? We may suggest that this reminded us of the first preservation of our heritage that occurred in Egyptian exile. Furthermore, Chazal tell us that the all exiles of our past and future were compressed in the Egyptian exile. This serves as a lesson and inspiration that just as we have succeeded in preserving our heritage in Egypt we will succeed in all other exiles.
Sefer Devarim corresponds to the twenty-two goblets of the Menorah. We may derive from this that sefer Devarim is the guide for how to preserve the Torah in galus. Indeed, Chazal tell us that when Moshe realized that he would not be allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael he foresaw that there would galus. He proceeded to rebuke the Jewish people in preparation of what would happen. He then reviewed the entire Torah with an emphasis on how to perform and fulfill the Torah even in these difficult times.
© Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5764/2004