where there is light and warmth, it is also kosher

Friday, 4 February, 2022 - 5:20 am

There was once a very special and beloved person in Kfar Chabad. His name was R. Meir Friedman, and he used to tell the following story:

As is usual among Jews, a rumor started going around the village that the village’s Shochet (slaughterer) is not G-d fearing and therefore one cannot rely on his Shechitah. This, of course, affected his livelihood – negatively.

The Ruzhiner Rebbe heard about this, and he decided to send a Chassid of his to the home of the Shochet.

The Chassid knocked on the door of the Shochet without telling him the reason for his visit. The Shochet and his family welcomed him warmly, lit candles for him and gave him a bowl of hot soup to warm him up after being out in the cold winter weather.

When the Chassid returned to the Ruzhiner Rebbe and told him about the visit, the Ruzhiner got up and announced: “Where there is light and warmth, it is also kosher.”

In this week’s Parasha, Parashat Terumah, we learn about the making of the golden Menorah. It had branches decorated with “Kaftorim” (“knobs), “Prachim” (“flowers”) and also “Gevi’im” (“cups”). There were twenty-two cups altogether, three on each of the six branches, and four on the central branch – all made of pure gold. The Rambam, when drawing the Menorah, positioned the cups upside-down, so that the wider rims of the cups point downward, and the narrower bottoms – upwards.

The Rebbe in his Likutei Sichot, 21, gives a special (and characteristic) meaning to the reason for the upside-down cups, and connects it with the overall goal of the Beit Mikdash (Temple), which is to light up the world with goodness and holiness. Says the Rebbe: When the cup is not upside-down, it is a vessel that can hold something. In other words, it can hold the wine or the water that is put into it, and it keeps it to itself. But when one wants to give and influence, to pour from the cup, one turns the cup over, so that its wide rim faces downward.

The Menorah of the Temple was not intended only to light up the sanctuary itself, as Rabbi Zerikah says in the name of Rabbi Elazar in tractate Menachot (86b): “I don’t need its light… it is evidence to the whole world that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) rests upon Israel.” The Menorah was intended to give light and Heavenly warmth to everyone in this world.

And so, it is fitting that the Menorah should have upside-down cups, indicating an act of pouring out and giving, and not a state of storing, holding onto the contents.

We have no Beit Mikdash today, but we can warm the world and light it up, and we are even commanded to do so. We can even pour for others: hot soup, a cup of tea, or a cup of L’Chaim if necessary. The main thing is to influence, give, radiate light and warmth, because then it becomes evident, as the Ruzhiner said: “where there is light and warmth, it is also kosher.”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski


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