The Importance of Getting and Accepting Guidance on a Spiritual Journey

"And you should command the Children of Israel, to bring pure olive oil, crushed especially for lighting, in order to keep an eternal light burning." (Ex. 27:20)

Rebbe Yaacov Yosef of Polnoye, zt'l, known by Chassidim as the "Toldos", asked the following question. We know that the commandments of the Torah are eternal, and have relevance for every time and generation. If so, without a Mikdash, how can we fuflfill this mitzvoh today?

Let's examine the verse.

"And you should command. . .", the word to command is related to the word "Tzaftzah", to join together.

". . to the children of Israel. . .", refers to the Tzaddik, to whom the hearts of Israel cleave in order to accept his teachings and guidance.

". . .pure olive olive. . .", refers to the wisdom of the Torah which is called "oil".

". . . in order to keep an eternal light burning . . .", by means of Israel cleaving to the way of the Tzaddik and his Torah teachings, each Jew will be able to kindle in himself an eternal light that will constantly strive upwards. In this way, what is written in Proverbs, 20:27 will be actualized, "The soul of man is the candle of Hashem".

Short Biography: R' Yaacov Yosef of Polnoye (d. 1784), was one of the first and most dedicated of the disciples of the founder of Chassidus, the Holy Baal Shem Tov. He was already an accomplished scholar when he attached himself to the Baal Shem Tov, and his becoming a disciple engendered much controversy. His book Toldos Yaacov Yosef (1780) was the first chassidic work ever published. In it repeats the phrase, "I have heard from my teacher", 249 times. He is one of our foremost sources for teachings from the Baal Shem Tov.

How to Live with Hardship

"And you should command the Children of Israel, to bring pure olive oil, crushed especially for lighting, in order to keep an eternal light burning." (Ex. 27:20)

On this verse the classic Torah commentator Rashi, says, "pure olive oil, crushed especially for lighting..., and not for the meal offering." (Olive oil was used for both light ing the Menorah and for the Meal offering. While the olive oil for the Menorah was 'pure olive oil, crushed especially for lighting', the oil for the meal offerings was of a lesser quality.)

Rebbi Menachem Mendel of Riminov finds a deeper meaning in the comment of Rashi. When a person is "crushed" by life's circumstances and is beset by suffering, he must endeavor not to give in, but to remain joyous in his service of Hashem The meal offerings which are called "Menachos" also means rest. This then is the meaning of "crushed especially for lighting", to become radiant and purified through suffering, "and not for the meal offering", not to rest, or to give up.

Short Biography: R' Menachem Mendel of Riminov (1745-1815), was one of the four main disciples of the famous Rebbi Elimelech of Lizensk. Before Rebbi Elimelech passed away, he willed something of himself to each of his four major disciples. Each one received a special gift that reflected a quality that the disciple had until then nearly perfected. To R' AvrahamYehoshua Heschel, the Apter Rebbe, he gave his mouth (power of oration). To the R' Yitzchok Yaakov, the Seer of Lublin he gave his eyes (the power of prophecy and insight). To R' Yisrael, the Maggid of Kozhnitz he, gave his heart (the power of deeper understanding. To Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Riminov he left something special indeed, his brain (the power of reasoning and the awesome mastery of knowledge).

Back to the Nishmas Chayim Parsha and Holiday Archive