Nearly a year after they arrived at Mount Sinai, the Jewish people began their journey toward the Promised Land. Before our portion describes the tumultuous journey, the Torah reiterates the commandment to light the Menorah:

The L‑rd spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and say to him: ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the Menorah.’ ”1

The Menorah is aOur task is to illuminate symbol of the mission statement of the Jewish people. Our task is to illuminate ourselves and the world around us with the warmth, enlightenment and inspiration of the Torah. As we journey into the world to implement the teachings of the Torah, we are reminded that each of us is heir to the legacy of Aaron, who would kindle the lights of the Menorah, symbolizing Aaron’s effort to inspire and illuminate each and every soul.

The word the Torah uses to describe the lighting of the Menorah, behaalotecha, means “to lift up,” which is an unusual word to describe kindling a flame. Rashi offers two explanations why this word is used:

He is required to kindle the lamp until the flame rises by itself. Our sages further expounded from here that there was a step in front of the Menorah, on which the kohen stood to prepare [the lamps].

These two explanations apply to the figurative kindling of the flames as well. The first interpretation explains that the word “rise up” is used because the flame rises up independently and no longer needs the influence of the candle that ignited it. This teaches us that when we seek to inspire others, be it a child, a student or a friend, it is not enough to bring our flame close to theirs and allow them to be affected by our excitement and passion. To “lift up” the flame is to “kindle the lamp until the flame rises by itself”—by sharing the fire until the recipient no longer needs the teacher, for the student is inspired and passionate on her own.

The second interpretation explains that the words “when you rise up” refers not to the flame but to Aaron, because Aaron would rise up on a step in order to light the Menorah. This interpretation also contains a lesson for each of us: The surest path to elevate oneself is to seek to inspire others. While the natural tendency of someone who seeks to grow spiritually may be to seclude himself and focus inward, the Torah teaches us that by preparing to ignite someone else’s flame, you too will rise up, you too will be inspired.2

This double message—that we must seek to inspireWe must seek to inspire others until they shine on their own, and that the surest way to grow is by inspiring others—is at the heart of what the Rebbe constantly taught us.

Before Rabbi Yisrael and Rebbetzin Vivi Deren married and set out to establish Chabad in Western and Southern New England, they had a private audience with the Rebbe. In the words of Rabbi Deren:

The Rebbe told us something very powerful, which continues to guide us until today. The Rebbe said, “Ir vet machen lichtig un varem ba andere, un der Aibershter vet machen lichtig un varem ba eich—you shall bring light and warmth to others, and G‑d will bring light and warmth to you.” That blessing and assurance is what keeps us going until today.3