This week’s music https://youtu.be/7Yvh0Pgsgk4
There are many places in the Torah whose lessons are connected to the Kabbalistic concept of “picking up the sparks.” Sparks of souls lost along the way, left behind and separated from Klal Yisrael.
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev cites two of those references in this week’s Torah portion of “Beha’alotcho.”
In the first instance, Bamidbar 8.2, Hashem tells Moshe, “Speak to Aharon ( Hakohen) and tell him, “when you raise up the lights, facing the face of the Menorah ( i.e.The Schechinah), the seven candles will send out their light.” The Kohen has the role as the one who needs to raise up the lights through his character. He as a leader and example for all of the nation, is the one through whom lost sparks can be picked up and brought back to their rightful place in front of Hashem.
This must be done with extreme reverence for God, much like the metaphor of the letter nun which is humbly hunched over in awe of Hashem. This Reb Levi Yitzchak teaches, is the reason for the unusual placement, later on in our “parshah,” of the letters “nun” as a parenthetical symbol to show the great “yirah,” the children of Israel and their leaders the Kohanim, needed to have when traveling in the desert with the Ark of the Covenant. “Vay’hi binsoa haAron,” it was when the Ark travelled (Bamidbar 10.35-36). The letter “nun” different in structure than any other letter, is bent over to reveal it’s “yirah,” awe for God. Thus as we traveled through the desert, the fallen sparks of souls were attracted to return home.
Similarly, the Kohen today acts as a conduit to bring Hashem’s blessing down to the people and thus humbly bring us all closer to God and each other. Reb Levi Yitzchak teaches that the manner by which the Kohanim bless the people, with their hands held high and the back of their hands towards their own face, shows that the Kohen has no intention of receiving anything personal from this blessing. The Kohen only wants to give and be a spiritual influence to channel the blessing from God above. In this way, the Kohen is interested in bringing “one’s” pleasure and delight to our Creator who in turn only wants to bless His children. As is written in the Mishnah Avot Chapter 2 Mishneh 8, “if you have been blessed to learn much Torah, don’t keep it for yourself alone. It is this great light of humility that a Kohen needs to share with the world. Bottom line to me is, when I want there to be more of a good thing in the world, it is my job to give it over from a place of sharing and selflessness.
Once I am blessed to be in that frame of mind of giving I need to also learn how to receive. Later in our “parshah” the Torah teaches us the lesson of a “second chance.” “Pesach sheni,” is representative of the concept derived from those in the camp of Israel, who for various reasons, were unable to bring the Pesach sacrifice to Hashem with everyone else on 14-15 Nisan ( Bamidbar 9.6-14). They went to Moshe and asked for a second chance to bring the sacrifice. We can always have a second chance, but for that to happen, like in the original establishment of this law, I need to learn to ask for it. As much as Shlomo taught us that you always have a second chance, he also stressed over and over again that we need to know the importance of asking. Here we note that those who were unable to bring the “karban” on 14 -15 Nissan asked to be able to bring it at a later date ( Bamidabr 9.7-8).
May we all find our place and strength to storm the gates of heaven with prayer and ask for that second chance for ourselves, our families, friends and all of our bothers and sisters for everything that we need.
May we all be blessed to give and receive from each other through gifts of blessing and support in a way that will only unite us as vessels to shine this light out for all of the world to see and benefit from.
Perhaps when Hashem sees how much we want to be together, He will then fulfill that which we ask for three times a day, please actualize the in-gathering of us all from the four corners of the earth to our Holy Land.