Dina is sitting in her bedroom with a scowl on her face. She is sixteen years old, and it seems like everyone is always trying to change her.

There’s her mother, who urges her to be neater and more organized. “Just look at this room of yours!” her mother rants. “You can’t even find the floor with your mess piled so high. You’ve got to learn to be more orderly!”

Her father is always criticizing her for being too dreamy and not more ambitious. “You’ve got to start thinking about your career. If you would apply yourself as much to your school grades as you do to your meaningless hobbies . . . !”

Dina understands that her parents seek her benefit and welfare. But she feels that they just don’t understand her. “Why do they try to change me into someone else, instead of helping me to develop into the best ‘me’ that I can be?”

Behaalotecha opens with the divine instructions to Aaron the high priest regarding lighting the menorah:

Speak to Aaron and say to him: When you raise up the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah. (Numbers 8:2)

Rashi explains: He is required to kindle the lamp until the flame rises by itself, on its own accord (Shabbat 21a). 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.

The lights of the menorah are symbolic of the Jewish soul. The word “raise up” (behaalotecha) is used, rather than “kindle” or “light,” because Aaron’s task was to raise up every soul, to bring out the great potential within each individual.

There are times when a person’s potential is concealed, so hidden within his subconscious that even he himself is unaware of his capabilities.

Perhaps she has been surrounded by criticism her whole life, so that she no longer believes in herself. Perhaps she has experienced challenges and has failed so many times that she no longer trusts her abilities to ever succeed.

Perhaps he just has never been surrounded with the nurturance and validation so vital, that he has come to consider himself with utter disdain. Or maybe he just never pushed himself to the limit and is therefore simply unaware of how to bring out his latent potential.

The role of a true mentor is to “light up” the potential in every individual, to reveal it from its state of dormancy.

When “lighting up” another, the key is not only to light up his flame of belief, but to take him to the stage where he is no longer dependent on outside inspiration. He is lit up—as Rashi interprets—“until the flame rises by itself, on his own accord” and is able to shine strongly by himself, without the constant aid of another. He begins his trek by first taking baby steps, then gaining inner confidence to take real strides in his growth.

The mentor provides the keys by providing belief, direction, and confidence in his abilities, and then the individual is able to soar on his own wings. And this is achieved by raising up instead of putting down, through uplifting and encouraging messages rather than criticism and rebuke.

The menorah had seven branches. These branches are metaphors for the seven soul-personalities.

There are some individuals who are right-oriented: they are outward bound, giving, extroverted, full of love and kindness (chesed). There are others who are more introverted, more restrained, more exacting and fearful (gevurah). Then there are those who beautifully (tiferet) synthesize the two, sometimes giving and other times withholding.

Some individuals surge with a swell of competitive energy (netzach), while others are masters of consistent devotion (hod). Some are characterized as being experts at connecting with others (yesod) by condensing their messages through effective communication skills. And others have an aura of authority, regality (malchut), confidence and self-appreciation that affects all aspects of their personality.

In all, there are seven general paths, each with its own personal direction.

The three wicks on the right and the three on the left were all directed toward the menorah’s central stem. The Torah is teaching that, irrespective of your personality or your unique path or calling in life, as long as your actions are not self-serving but are directed towards bringing more goodness into our world—you are able to shine brightly.

In the mentor’s role, it is crucial to value these special qualities and paths.

All too often, we try to change people. Whether as parents, spouses, friends, coworkers, or teachers, we see someone’s limitations and we point out his errors, in the interest of “helping him.” In doing so, we construct an artificial model of what we believe is the only path to self-actualization. We denigrate differences, rather than appreciate the beauty of diversity.

Our job, says the Torah, is to help another reach her potential by seeing the beauty in her own path and qualities rather than guiding her to become a carbon copy of ourselves. As long as her path is directed “inward,” towards a higher calling of creating a G‑dly world, her path is true.

“Light up” another not by crushing individuality, but by validating positive qualities, by discovering latent capabilities, and by igniting his fire so that his own branch shines brightly.

Lighting up another fire is not an easy task. But, in the process, you will have raised yourself to become a better, more tolerant, upright, and loving individual.

“There was a step in front of the menorah, on which the kohen stood to prepare the lamps.”

By seeing the beauty in another’s qualities, even when different from your own, you have raised yourself to stand as a taller individual and you have made our world a brighter more tolerant and loving place.