The Torah portion begins with G-d telling Moshe to instruct Aaron that he and his descendants will have the distinct privilege of kindling the Menorah in the Temple each day.
The golden Temple Menorah was fashioned of seven branches. Pure olive oil was used and the wicks were generally taken from the retired worn out linen garments of the Kohain Godol.
The Menorah was lit each afternoon after the final afternoon daily Tamid sheep was offered.
In the early morning the Kohain would clean out the left over residue of the previous lighting, and pour in new oil and add a new wick. This procedure is called Hatavas Hanairos and was reserved for a Kohain to perform. Theoretically, a non-Kohain was able to perform the actual kindling of the Menorah. Practically speaking it was impossible since the Menorah was placed in the Holy part of the Temple where only a Kohain was allowed to enter. If the Menorah was for some reason placed in the courtyard of the Temple, then a non-Kohain would be able to kindle the Menorah.
The Torah tells us that the lights of the Menorah be directed toward the face of the Menorah. Rashi explains that this means that the wicks of the six branches of the Menorah are positioned to face the center branch of the Menorah.
Reb Tzodok Hakohain explains through the Zohar/Kaballah that the seven branches of the Menorah represent the seven days of the week. The middle branch represents Shabbos and the three branches on each side represent the six days of the week, making Shabbos the centerpiece of the week.
Three branches on the one side represent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday which receive spiritual energy of the upcoming Shabbos. In fact, at the end of the Wednesday’s Song of the day – Psalm 94 that we recite in our morning prayers – there are two additional verses that we add from Psalm 95 ‘Lechu Nerananah’ which is recited at the beginning of the Kabalas Shabbos service – when we welcome the Shabbos on Friday eve. This is indicative that on Wednesday we are already geared to welcome and prepare for the upcoming Shabbos.
The three other branches of the Menorah represent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. These days are still infused with the holiness of the previous Shabbos. In fact, Halacha indicates that if one did not perform Havdalla Saturday night, he has until Tuesday evening to recite the Havdalla Blessing over wine. This is because these days still retain the spiritual energy of the previous Shabbos.
Tikunai HaZohar tells us an additional fascinating idea of what the seven branches of the Menorah represent. The Torah describes the central shaft of the Menorah as Penai – the face of the Menorah. Imbedded in the word Penai – face is the idea that we have features upon our face that represent the seven branches of the Menorah; our two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and mouth. Each of these vital parts of our face can be ‘lit up’ through our service and consideration to the Almighty.
The Menorah on our face also has a center to which the other features point to, and that is the mouth.
The mouthpiece of a human being is our distinguishing feature. Our ability to speak and convey our intellectual thoughts and ideas make us unique among all living creatures.
The mouth, if utilized incorrectly, whether toward our fellow or to the Almighty, can cause the most destructive and caustic fires ever to be created, as we are witness to its caustic powers on a daily basis.
Says the Skolya Rebbe, the Hebrew word for garbage is Ashpah. The first two letters of the word form the word Aish – fire – and the other two letters form the word Peh – mouth. Fire and mouth imbedded in the word Ashpah – garbage – gives us an inkling of the destructive fire produced when toxic rubbish about others emits from one’s mouth.
The mouth can produce the most meaningful, positive and creative ideas that can build and foster growth, connection and friendship, just as the holy fire of the Menorah.
Our Chasidic Masters spoke of a Bris – treaty – that G-d made with us concerning our speech. Speech should not be taken lightly since it is exposing our inner being to others. It is a direct reflection and exposure of the true essence of the person.
When we express our prayers, speak words of Torah, compliment others, speak with ease and exercises refrain from saying something that will hurt someone, we add sanctity to ourselves and our environment, and we become the recipients of G-d’s special blessings!