April 26, 2021

Yoma 15

We are taught in today’s daf (Yoma 15a) that the Kohanim were tasked with placing sufficient oil in the Menorah so that it will continue to burn “from evening until morning” (Shemot 27:21) – and this led me to think about the symbolism of the Menorah as a representation of Torah.
In general, when teaching Torah to younger and not just younger people, we think about what a student needs to know at that moment and for their respective age and stage. However, it is of note that when the Menorah was prepared, it was filled with oil so that it could burn not just during the morning (which, as our Sages explain, often represents the times in our lives when things are clear and easy), but also throughout the night (which often represents the times in our lives when things are more confusing, challenging and difficult).
What this means is that a Menorah was given two things: a) The ability to stay alight for a long period of time without regular interventions by others, and b) The ability to stay alight not just in the daytime, but in the nighttime too; not just when things are easy, but also when things are rough.
In the same spirit, when we teach Torah, it is important to teach towards independence in thinking and learning. But beyond this, it is also important to teach ideas that don’t just speak to situations when everything is going well (Plan A – Lechatchila), but also, to situations when things don’t work out quite as you planned them (Plan B, or C, or D…. – Bedieved); ideas not just for the morning, but those for the night as well.
By doing so, we will help our students remain ‘lit’ in all situations that they face.
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