We continue this week with instructions regarding the Tabernacle and priesthood. This portion is known for the commandment to bring oil for lighting, “for kindling lamps regularly” (Exodus 27:20). This lighted lamp which is “to burn from evening to morning” (27:21) is sometimes seen as a link to the eternal light (“ner tamid”) which we find in the synagogue. Of course, as you may expect, commentators have discussed this issue and the symbolism of light for centuries. It is often seen as a symbol of God’s presence in us, this saving or sacred spark of the Divine. It is this light that we see that is used to light other souls in the doing of “mitzvoth”, acts of loving-kindness that benefit not only the person receiving the deed, but, more so, the person doing the act. In this way, Judaism’s idea of “paying it forward” creates a moral and ethical foundation for society. It is this idea of connection and involvement that underscores so much of Boomer generation’s now growing movement to give back to society in some meaningful way.
This idea of choosing how we give back to society, and thus our own self, connected with me again as I read through the latest edition of Parabola magazine. (Spring 2017) There is a wonderful piece with the grandson of Viktor Frankl in which he discusses his grandfather’s idea of logotherapy and the desire to see the best in people. What a refreshing idea for America in 2017. The editor of the magazine also channeled Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. He quoted” Between stimulus and response there is a space…in that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”. What a powerful image, that space that all of us know that exist in between a stimulus to us and how we respond. That choice of response does determine who we are and often, who we become. Those responses create meaning. Those responses define us, no matter what our age. Again, that “eternal light” of the sacred shines within each of us, helping us, I hoe, to make choices that celebrate life and guide us to a meaning and purpose that brings “light” to the world.
Rabbi Richard F Address