Public vs. Private!

In the Parsha, the Torah instructs the Kohanim/Priests to kindle the Menorah in the Temple every afternoon, and to clean out the residue of the lamps in the morning.

These two services had to coincide with the twice daily incense offering on the incense Altar that was located inside the Temple building.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein o.b.m. explains the relationship between the Menorah and incense service as follows: The incense offering in the Temple was performed quietly inside the Temple. Although the service was not seen by the public, its aroma permeated the entire Jerusalem and wafted as far as the City of Jericho.  This teaches us that if a person is devoted to G-d in his personal conduct, even though he does not actively teach or lecture, he will influence others with positive vibes.  The illumination of the Menorah represents the brilliant aura of Torah that is spread openly by teachers to students which naturally reaches great distances. The two services were done at the same time to emphasize the importance and significance of both approaches. One can never underestimate the positive and far-reaching effect of one’s devotion to G-d by way of his own unique personality or by triumphing over his personal struggles even when they are done personally and privately.

In the City of Kaminetz, a priest was seen dismantling an idolatrous icon that he had recently erected in front of his house. When he was asked the reason for his odd behavior he explained that he had noticed the last couple of days that the Rabbi of the local Yeshiva, Rabbi Boruch Ber Lebovitz, had not passed by his home. “I inquired about the well being of the Rabbi and was told that the Rabbi preferred to take a different route home, to avoid seeing the idol.” The priest continued, “I had always been inspired by the countenance of the holy Rabbi, and I did not want to inconvenience him.”

In a somewhat similar scenario, when Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz came to America in the early 1900’s to solicit funds for his Yeshiva in Europe. He was welcomed with great excitement by American Jewry.  Even the then Mayor of the City of New York, Jimmy Walker, hosted a welcoming event and presented Rabbi Leibowitz with a key to the city. In his speech, the mayor said, “Rabbi Leibowitz disproves Darwin’s theory of evolution, for only G-d could create a holy man like Rabbi Leibowitz!”

The Parsha describes the threads and materials needed for the construction of the eight garments the Kohain Gadol – High Priest – was required to wear, and for the four garments that the other priests were required to wear when they performed the service in the Temple.

When the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, they looted the Temple`s treasures. The Talmud relates that King Achashvairosh of the Purim story, when he thought the Jews were no longer worthy of returning to Israel to rebuild the second Temple, hosted a half-year party to celebrate.

In the Megilla of Esther it describes the decor, draperies, pillars and ambiance of the king’s palace where he hosted the party. Within this description, a letter Ches of one of the words is traditionally scribed in a much larger font. The Meam Loaiz explains that the large Ches – whose numerical value is eight, hints to something that happened at the party. Achashveirosh had donned the eight garments of the Kohain Godol that had been plundered. He also displayed the other stolen artifacts of the Temple. Because of his irreverence towards the Temple and its holy garments, G-d orchestrated that during the party he became infuriated with his wife, Queen Vashti, and had her executed.

Possibly, the Temple’s artifacts were returned when Darius, the son of Queen Esther, gave the Jews permission to rebuild the second Temple.

The number eight in Judaism represents the level of our existence that goes beyond the natural order of things which are represented by the number seven which are the days that reoccur each week.

King Achashvairosh donned these eight special garments thinking that he could have control over them and over the destiny of the Jews.

As upset as G-d was with the Jews at the time because they had abandoned Him, He responded to our repentance, prayers and devotion and saved us from our enemy. He thus proved to the world that our existence and perseverance is beyond the natural; it’s on level Eight!