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  • Yehuda Pevzner

To Kindle a Soul

The Torah portion of B'ha'alotcha begins with the commandment to Aaron, the High Priest, to daily light the seven candle menorah, "candelabra" in the Tabernacle. In the Temple in Jerusalem, the menorah was also lit daily. In Proverbs, we learn that "G-d's candle is the soul of man." Candles are souls that must be kindled.

G-d commands Aaron to light the candles of the menorah with the word B'ha'alotcha, which means, "When you cause (the candles) to ascend." In defining this commandment, our sages explain that the priest must hold the source of fire to the candle until the flame of the candle ascends independently, and no longer requires the source of fire in order to burn. This principle applies to souls, as well. When we desire to kindle another soul, we must steadily hold our own source of fire to the soul being kindled, until it matures and is no longer dependent upon us.

The 3-Dimensional Flame of Love

The Hebrew word used by our sages for "flame" is shalhevet, whose numerical value is 737. In the Shema Yisrael prayer recited three times daily, we quote the commandment in the Torah to love G-d on three levels - "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." The numerical value of this phrase is also 737. The commandment to light the flame is only complete when all three levels of love have been kindled in the soul and burn independently.

The heart has many attributes: fear, awe, compassion, sincerity, devotion and more. But to set souls on fire is an act of love. The epitome of love is described in the Song of Songs as "the flame of G-d."

Aaron, the priest commanded to light the candles, represents infinite love. When he lights the candles, he kindles this experience of love in the hearts of his fellow Jews. The Jews themselves are candle lighters, kindling the souls of those around them until they, too, experience the independent ascent of love of their own souls toward G-d.

Kindle your soul by lighting the Shabbat candles this week!

Candle lighting time is 8:13 PM

Shabbat Shalom!


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