These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

תצוה, tetsavveh

Posted on February 8, 2011 by Avi Strausberg

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in this week’s parsha, aharon is instructed to kindle lamps inside the אהל מעוד, the tent of meeting, to burn from evening until morning.  each night, he must light the lights and each morning, he must put out their flames as a law for all generations.  aharon, as the lamplighter of the jewish people, reminds me of a character from one of my favorite childhood stories, the little prince

in the little prince, a lamplighter lives alone with his one streetlamp on a planet without roads and without people.  however, because he’s been ordered to do so, he tirelessly climbs up and down his one streetlamp, lighting and extinguishing its light with the turning of each sunset.  the little prince, while noting the seeming futility in the lamplighter’s occupation, also “felt that he loved this lamplighter who was so faithful to his orders.”  he goes on to add, “he is the only one of them all who does not seem to me ridiculous.  perhaps, that is because he is thinking of something else besides himself.”

although in this parsha, the lamp kindling was intended to be a חקת עולם לדורותם (law throughout the ages), we no longer have an אהל מעוד in which to tend the lamps.  however, in place of this kindling, we’re received other orders from God, including an obligation in prayer, in which our faithfulness is commanded and we are asked to think of something besides ourselves.

despite my best intentions to not only daven three times a day but to do so in a manner that is meaningful, there are times when i feel like i’m davening only to fulfill an obligation.  and while i acknowledge that this is not the ideal prayer experience, the little prince’s observation on his lamplighter makes me think that there’s something to be said for pure, unwavering faithfulness.  that even during the times when i don’t feel like davening and i’m doing so just by rote, that there’s meaning enough in my commitment to my orders and my attempt to think outside myself.

daily, he takes care
to light the lamp while they sleep,
faithful to orders

may we find meaning in the way we chose to structure our lives,