*This week is the last Saturday with Hebrew school for the summer, it is Teacher Appreciation Shabbat, and two of our Hebrew school teachers (Hazel and Shifra) who have been at Temple Beth Emeth for 20+ years will be retiring this year.*
Please don't leave us, for because you are familiar with our encampments
in the desert and you will be our guide. (Numbers 10:31)
This week’s Torah portion begins with the explanation of how Aaron and his sons will properly keep lit the menorahs in the Tabernacle. G-d tells Moses, who in turn tells Aaron, there will be seven lamps lit facing the menorah, so that its finely constructed gold will be nice and shiny, reflecting its own light. Proverbs 20:27 says: The spiritual significance of the mitzvah of lighting the menorah is that one should be a "lamplighter" who ignites that latent potential within "the soul of man, a lamp of G-d". The Lubavitcher Rebbe adds to this: Here, too, the endeavor must be to kindle the lamp "so that a flame arises of its own accord." In teaching and influencing one's fellow, the objective should be to establish him or her as a self-sufficient luminary: to assist in developing his talents and abilities so that his lamp independently glows and, in turn, kindles the potential in others.
As the Parasha continues, Moses’s father-in-law tells Moses he will be leaving the mixed multitudes to return from whence he came. If the Prince of Egypt is any indication, Moses’s father-in-law has been a true guiding light for Moses. I mean, he has that whole song about looking at your life from heaven’s eyes, which segues into a montage ending in Moses and Tzipporah’s marriage. Life changing stuff occurs in that montage. In the Torah, there is no montage, but Moses does plead with his father-in-law not to leave: Please don't leave us, for because you are familiar with our encampments in the desert and you will be our guide. Clearly, Moses recognizes that some lights are not seven armed, are not made of gold, and are guiding lights, in addition to the way they may light up a room. His father-in-law was a light for him, as the menorah was the light for Aaron in the Tabernacle.
Here at Temple Beth Emeth v’Or Progressive Shaari Zedek, Shifra and Hazel are such lights. They are familiar with these encampments, and have been guides. They are lamplighters that have ignited that latent potential in countless students. They are the menorah that allows the flame of their students to arise of the own accord, but support and reflect those lights.
As each of us who have been touched by the lights of our teachers continue on our way, may we reach a time when we can let our own lamps glow independently so that we may find our own chances to kindle the potential in others. Amen.