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On the pure Menorah shall he arrange the lamps before Hashem continually (Varikra 24:4). You shall place them in two stacks, six in each stack, upon the pure Table before Hashem (Ibid, 6).
In this week’s parsha we learn about the lighting of the Menorah and the arrangement of the showbread upon the Shulchan. It is noteworthy that the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah was to be preformed daily whereas the arrangement of the showbread was preformed weekly. The Gemara says, if one wants to become wise he should face south during prayer. If one wants to become wealthy he should face north during prayer. The mnemonic for this is: the Menorah is in the south and the Shulchan in the north (Bava Basra 25b). The Menorah is symbolic of wisdom, i.e., the study of Torah. The Shulchan is symbolic of wealth. In the mishkan the Menorah was located toward the south and the Shulchan toward the north. One should face the direction of the object that is symbolic of what he would like to attain.
We may suggest that there is a deeper meaning here. The Menorah was lit daily. When seeking wisdom one must keep in mind that success can only be achieved through diligent daily study. To obtain wealth however, one should focus on the Shulchan. The Shulchan was arranged weekly. In contrast to the Menorah the mitzvah cycle was long term. Success in wealth is generally contingent upon long term investments. What has little value now may be of great value in the future.
With regard to the Menorah, the Gemara relates that a miracle occurred every single day. The western lamp would be filled with a measure of oil equal to the other lamps. There was just enough oil for the lamp to remain lit until morning, yet the western lamp remained lit until the following evening. chazal state that this miracle served as testimony that the Divine Presence rested upon the Jewish People (Shabbos 22).
With regard to the showbread, we also find that chazal call it a “great miracle.” Although the bread remained on the table the entire week, it remained fresh and even exuded steam. When the Jewish people came to visit the Beis Hamikdash three times a year, the kohanim would lift the table and display the fresh bread and steam. They would say “See how much love Hashem has for the Jewish People” (Chagigah 26).
We may note that that term chazal use to describe the miracle of the Menorah is “testimony” and the term used in connection with the miracle of the showbread is “love.” Testimony is related to truth and fact. Witnesses testify to establish the facts of a case. The miracle of the Menorah testified the true fact that Hashem’s Presence rested upon the Jewish People. The showbread miracle is described as “love.” True love can only be verified with the test of time. This may explain why the cycle of the miracle was relatively long in contrast to the cycle of its counterpart, the Menorah.
We may now suggest that two miracles complemented one another. Not every reality of life do we love and not everything we love is real. The two miracles together represent the reality that Hashem rests his Presence upon the Jewish people as an expression of His love for them.
Between Pesach and Shavuos, we have a mitzvah to count the Omer. The counting concludes with the holiday of Shavuos, the day when the Jewish people received the Torah on Mount Sinai. The counting of the Omer is viewed as a yearning and anticipation of the day when we received the Torah. The mitzvah is divided into two separate parts. There is mitzvah to count days and a mitzvah to count weeks. We may suggest that the two parts of the mitzvah correspond to the two ideas mentioned above. The counting of the days serves as “testimony” that the Torah is the essence of the Jewish people. The counting of the “weeks” expresses the love we have for the Torah. Both elements together express the fact that the Torah is the love and reality of the Jewish people.
© Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5765/2005