In the beginning of Tetzaveh, G‑d tells Moses, “You command the children of Israel that they should take to you pure olive oil, crushed for illumination, to kindle (or literally: ‘to lift up’) the lamp, regularly.”

To get the purest olive oil, the olives were crushed in a mortar, and the first drop expressed was used for producing the oil. Only the oil extracted this way could be used to light the menorah. The remainder of the olive was ground to extract more oil, but this oil was not for the menorah.

What can we learn from this?

The kindling of the menorah symbolized lighting up the souls of our fellow people. For this, only the purest olive oil, extracted through crushing, may be used.

The purest comes out through being crushed. And it is this that ignites souls.

We all are at times “crushed”—tested with suffering in one form or another. What we do with it is our choice. You can choose to “grind”—to wallow in self-pity—or you can use your crushing experience to lift up those around you.

Choosing to use your experience for the positive will not only uplift those around you, but will give meaning and purpose to your situation.

Before, I was talented. I could teach, lecture, sing, dance and play guitar, and I was strong and handy. Within two years, I watched that all slip away. Now I’m left with my heart, my brain and my smile. Being crushed has brought stronger connections, new abilities, higher purpose and deeper meaning. Before, I used my talents to make people happy and to educate them. Now I get to do that and much more.

With this attitude, I have gained an added extra. I feel happy and fulfilled, and the people around me seem happy and uplifted.

Yet it is time for the crushing to end, and enjoying the light to begin.