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Seven Branches, Seven Truths

Seven Branches, Seven Truths


The candelabra in the Tabernacle and in the Holy Temple had seven branches. One of the major daily services of Aaron, the high priest, was kindling the candelabra. The verse, however, uses an unusual expression for this task—“when you will raise up the lamps,” rather than the more common expression, “to light the lamps.” The commentator Rashi explains that the priest had to coax the flame “until it rises up on its own.”

Based on a verse in Zechariah which compares the Jewish people to a golden candelabra, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains that each of the seven lamps of the candelabra corresponds to one of the seven holy character traits: kindness (chesed), austerity (gevurah), compassion (tiferet), etc.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that one of the conclusions we must draw from this is that there are really several different paths in Judaism. There are seven different ways. We are not all the same, and we are not all meant to be the same. Just as there are seven basic character traits, so too there are seven legitimate and valid ways to be a candelabra—a luminary. You don’t have to be a carbon copy of somebody else to be a good Jew. The critical issue is, are you kindled? Are you lit up? If you are lit up, and you are illuminating the surroundings as a candelabra of Judaism, then your way is valid. The Torah teaches us this by the fact that the candelabra does not have one branch, but seven, so that everybody can be themselves and serve G‑d according to their own personality and way, provided that they are illuminating the world in the way G‑d wants.

The windows of the Temple in Jerusalem were very unusual. Most of the time, when you build a house, you make the windows in such a way that the light from the outside will come into the house. But in the Temple, the windows were built in such a way that the light from inside could shine out, but not vice versa. This, too, is a lesson to every person—that he is not supposed to be influenced by the “outside” world, by what the street has to offer. Rather, he must kindle his own candelabra and illuminate the world around him, even the street outside.

We mentioned before that there are seven paths, there are seven approaches to Judaism. There is the way of love (ahavah), and the way of fear (yir’ah)—austerity or severity . Everyone is probably familiar with both approaches. We’ve all gone through school, and have probably experienced teachers who teach with love. The kids love them; they love the kids. There’s a feeling of joy and participation. Then we have all had teachers who were very strict disciplinarians. If you made one move, you were out of the room, or standing in the corner, or writing lines a hundred times. Both of them were teachers; both of them were trying to do the same thing—teach children. But they had different approaches—one with love, the other with fear. Now you might say, “What’s the difference? Do it with love, do it with fear, as long as you accomplish your goals. What’s the difference what method you use?”

However, the Rebbe says that there is a difference. Even though the way of the person who kindles you with fear is legitimate, nevertheless how much better, how much more pleasant it is when your way of kindling is with love . . .

By Nechoma Greisman, based on the teaching of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Nechoma Greisman was an educator, counselor and speaker who reached thousands of women through her classes and books. Tragically, at the age of 39, hours after giving birth to her tenth child, Nechoma was taken from this world, leaving an enormous and irreplaceable loss to Jews worldwide.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Michelle England UK June 25, 2016

thankyou I found this article both an inspiration and comforting to learn, to know and understand how this 'fits' where I am today (in here with you!) <3 Reply

Anonymous June 6, 2014

Thank you so true so right light has always to come from inside to outside not the other way around I'll hope all her kids are ok Reply

Anonymous Birmingham, AL June 14, 2006

7 paths I would like to know what the 7 paths are and how to know or discover the path you may be on. Where can I read more about this concept? Thanks. Reply

Dr. Elly (Eleanor S. Field, Ph.D.) Tarzana, CA June 14, 2006

the 7 branches How Beutiful! How Meaningful!
AS a psychologist, this goes along with psychological philosophy. I love, especially, "the light shing out", as well as comparison of portions of the tree of life.
My compliments to the person who wrote it. Reply

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