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Raising and Waving – This is Needed for Educators


Rabbi Yossef Carmel

SIvan 5783

The beginning of our parasha discusses both the raising up of light (Bamidbar 8:2) and the lifting up and waving of the levi’im (ibid. 11). The Torah prefers the language of raising up the light rather than kindling, which is parallel to the lifting and waving of the levi’im. The fact that Aharon was capable of raising and waving 22,000 levi’im one after the other was a sign of either incredible strength or a miracle (see Rabbeinu Bachyei ad loc.). But what is the connection between the two types of raising?

The light in the Torah correlates with Torah and wisdom. We find this explicitly in the following p’sukim: "For a commandment is a candle, and Torah is light" (Mishlei 6:23) and "A person’s wisdom shall light up his face" (Kohelet 8:1). Light also represents the spirituality within the physical world. Thus, increasing light is increasing Torah, wisdom, and spirituality. Lighting a menorah in the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash, or as the Torah calls it, raising the light, is the adding of spirituality and the strengthening of the Divine Presence in the Sanctuary and through it, in the whole world. The more Divine Presence there is, the greater the light in the world until the world comes to its final rectification. This is in line with what Yeshayahu prophesied: "Nations will walk to your (Jerusalem) light and kings to the aura of your shining" (60:3). The midrash states on this: "Yerushalayim is the light of the world, and Hashem is the light of Yerushalayim" (Bereishit Rabba 59:5).

The Mishkan and Beit Hamikdash are not merely places in which it is possible to serve Hashem through sacrifices. Rather, they are meant to be spiritual centers that spread the light to Israel and to the whole world. This center increases the Divine Presence among Hashem’s children and the whole world.

The levi’im help the kohanim in their service, but they are also tasked with teaching Torah to the whole nation. If the kohen gadol can be called the Minister of Education (see Bava Batra 21a about the educator/kohen gadol, Yehoshua ben Gamla), then the levi’im are the teachers under his guidance. In order for the educational system to work properly, the levi’im must be lifted up. They must be prominent for them to uplift the students of the nation and, through them, the entire nation.

The field of education must be a respected one. The desire is that those who will assume the roles of the nation’s "elite units," who take on the challenges of society, should do so through choice. It should not be that people become educators because they did not get accepted to a more "attractive" track of studies.

One of the ways to attract teachers is to pay them respectably, which enables them to dedicate all the necessary energy and strength for the task of educating. Educators should be the "torch lighters" of the candelabrum of the nation. They should be put on a special pedestal of light spreaders.

May we pray that we will merit to raise the light and to kindle the flame in the souls of the students of Israel. This will cause light to enter every corner of society and will elevate everyone to the fullest
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