Thursday, March 1, 2012

Olive Oil- Extra Virgin

This week’s parsha continues to give over commandments to Bnai Israel. From last week’s parsha of giving over the instructions to build the Mishkan, this week, Hashem commands Bnai Israel that they should donate olive oil for the menorah. Hashem says,

“Let Bnai Israel constantly occupy themselves with mitzvot so that they should gain merit.”

With that said, we can see how Hashem provides the Jewish people with endless opportunities to get closer to him through observing mitzvot.  Moreover, Hashem commands Bnai Israel that the only oil that can be used for the menorah are the first drops of the oil, because the first drop was the clearest and does not have any residue (any other oil pressed from the olive was only permitted for minchah offering).
            Hashem chose olive oil for lighting the menorah because the Jewish people are compared to olive oil for several reasons:
1.     Oil olive is the finest of all oils, so to, K’lal Yisrael is Hashem’s finest nation.
2.     Only after the oil is pressed and beaten does the olive yield its precious liquid. Similarly, Bnai Israel has been beaten, tortured, and exiled by the gentile nations numerous times. As a result of all the abuse, Bnai Israel was able to purify themselves and return to Hashem.
3.     Oil is the only liquid that if mixed with other liquids, it will not intermingle, it will stay separate. Similarly, throughout our history, the Jewish people always kept their distinctive identity and were not lost or intermingled into other society’s (the proof is in the pudding, we are still here today).
4.     If oil is mixed in with other liquids, the oil will float to the top. Similarly, the Jewish people will float above all the other nations of the world when they observe Hashem’s commandments.
5.     Oil is used to illuminate the entire world. Similarly, the ‘wisdom which radiated through the Bait Hamikdash- the holy temple- illuminated the entire world.’
Moreover, just as the inner essence of the olive is pure (once the outer shell of the olive is removed by external pressure) the innermost essence of the Jew is pure. The outer essence of a Jew is the yater hara- evil inclination- which prevents a Jew from reaching his fullest potential in life. In order to reach the inner kedusha- holiness- within, he must move beyond his outer shell. From all this, we should recognize how each of us has a pure inner neshama that is waiting to be illuminated. Rather than focusing on our external outer shell, which prevents us from reaching our highest potential in life, we should focus on developing our inner most essence of kedusha.

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