1. The opening verses in this week’s portion deal with the commandment to kindle the Menorah:

And you, [Moshe] must command the Israelites to bring you clear illuminating oil, made from crushed olives, to keep the lamp constantly burning. Aharon and his sons shall arrange the [Menorah] from evening until morning in G‑d’s presence, in the Tabernacle.... (Shmos 27:20,21)

Several ponderations come to mind which are discussed in Chassidic sources: (1) If Aharon the Kohen was designated to kindle the Menorah why was the oil brought to Moshe? (2) In the first verse which speaks of the oil being brought to Moshe, he is told to keep the Menorah “constantly burning” (Ner Tamid), in the next verse which speaks of Aharon’s role it says, “from evening until morning.” why this difference?

Chassidus explains that in fact the kindling which Aharon performed lasted “from evening till morning.” However, by taking the oil, Moshe generated new strength into the lamps so that Aharon could then light the lamps to burn “constantly.”

To understand this we must preface with a thorough explanation of the symbolic meaning of candle lighting in man’s Divine service.

The Menorah represents all of the Jewish people, for an individual lamp represents a Jewish soul, “the lamp of G‑d is the soul of man” (Mishlei 20:27), and the Menorah with its seven lamps encompasses the Divine service of all the Jewish people. The branches of the Menorah represent seven stages of serving G‑d, following the various attributes, such as love, fear etc. Aharon’s job was to kindle the Jewish lamps — to awaken the love of the Jewish people for G‑d — so that they would desire to be united with the blessed Ein Sof. This would lead to increased observance of Torah and mitzvos, with joy and delight, through the revelation of G‑dliness that comes as a result of Torah and mitzvos.

In this process there are two aspects, “from evening to morning,” alludes to a path of Divine service which incorporates changes, from a state of night and darkness to morning and revelation. Chassidus explains that this approach begins when only a bit of light pierces the darkness following which a change gradually takes place so that the light brings full illumination, like the day that follows the night.

The “constantly burning” approach alludes to a state of constant Divine service, with no changes. Being continuously connected to his G‑dly source, he is always in a state of illumination without variations.

These two approaches represent the difference between the function of Moshe and Aharon, and in a superimposed manner also the general difference between the Divine service of prayer and Torah study.

Aharon served in the Sanctuary, a place consecrated for the offering of sacrifices. In the post-Temple era this area of Divine service has been allocated to the service of prayer. As the Talmud relates, the daily prayers were established to substitute for the daily offerings in the Temple. Generally, the direction of prayer is from below upward, it effects refinement of the animal soul so that it too will be inspired with love of G‑d. Mitzvos too, generally move in the upward direction, all the while bringing purification to the material objects used in the fulfillment of the commandments.

Moshe represented Torah study, in fact the Torah is referred to as “Toras Moshe” (Moshe’s Torah). The direction of Torah study is generally seen as descending from Above downward.

Being the word of G‑d, the wisdom of the Holy One, Blessed be He, which has descended below so that man may study and comprehend it, it nevertheless retains its lofty status and is not restricted by temporal limitations of time and space. Torah would therefore be seen as the “constantly burning” lamp.

On the other hand, prayer which is man’s supplication to G‑d, as well as mitzvos, man’s actions, are involved with material matters and are therefore limited by physical restriction and they function within the realm of time. For this reason prayer would be seen as the lamps which burn from “evening to morning.”

The difference between study and prayer will also express itself in this framework. Prayer is set at certain limited times — morning or evening. Morning prayer symbolizes the nature of Avraham — the attribute of kindness — Minchah is severity, and the evening prayer (Maariv) symbolizes beauty, the attribute of Yaakov.

Similarly, all mitzvos which function in the temporal dimension, such as the kindling of the Menorah were set in specific time frames. And in the case of Temple mitzvos they could only be performed when the Temple stood — not in the post-Temple period.

Torah is above time — Torah must always be studied notwithstanding any time limitation. Even those halachic rules which designate time frameworks may also be studied at all times. The study of practices limited to the time of the Temple goes on even after the Temple was destroyed. Moreover “one who studies the laws of an Olah sacrifice is considered as if he had offered the Olah” (Menachos, end). So, too, with the study of the plans of the Temple:

In the merit of studying the rules of the Temple I will consider it as if they had been involved in building the Temple. (Tanchuma, Tzav 14)

Now let us take a second look at the Torah’s command to Moshe “to bring you” (the oil), even though it was Aharon who kindled the Menorah.

In order for Aharon to be effective in kindling the Menorah, the Divine service of rising from below upwards, it was necessary first for Moshe to be involved in receiving and providing the oil. As Chassidus explains:

Then Aharon would have the power...to draw the revelation of love in the souls of the Jewish people to engender light and joy in the mitzvah. (Torah Or, Tetzaveh)

Moreover, when Moshe made the preparatory steps Aharon was then able to kindle the lamps in a way that it would not only burn from “evening to morning,” but also to be constantly burning.

In mitzvos too, there is the potential for a higher dimension. Normally every mitzvah involves a specific act and a specific time — from “evening to morning.” In the higher dimension mitzvos take on a continuous extension of “living” with Torah — here we go beyond the division of time. When this state permeates the individual, the “mitzvah lamp” can be “constantly” burning — infused with the “Torah light.”

A question remains.

Since the first level of observance is temporal, why does the verse speak of the “constantly burning” lamps first and only then mention the dimension of “evening to morning?” The order would seem to be reversed, from the simple to the more sublime?

To clarify this point we must say that there is a special significance to the opening words of the portion “And you must command...,” which represents a loftier approach both from the point of view of Moshe, in drawing Torah down, and in the actions of Aharon as well, in the process of raising up. In this context right from the outset it is necessary to speak of the continuously burning lamps.

Some further elucidation is in order. Why the unusual phraseology: “And you must command?” Normally we find the simple term “tzav — command.” Why was Moshe directly told to personally give this “command” to the Jewish people — yet at the same time Moshe is not mentioned by name, he is merely referred to with the pronoun “you”?

Herein lies the explanation. “And you” alludes to the essential being of Moshe that stands in a dimension even higher than a name. The concept here is that the essence of Moshe must effect a connection between the essence of the Jewish people with the Essence of the Holy One, Blessed be He, Above. Only then will the kindling be without interruption.

When we speak of the essential being of Jewish souls we are talking of a level that is much higher than the level of Torah, because the “thought” of the Jewish people preceded everything even the Torah (see Bereishis Rabbah 1:4). Where do we see this intrinsic quality? In the inherent power of sacrifice of the Jewish people, which stems from the “Pintele Yid,” the essence of the Jewish soul, which is truly a part of G‑d. The soul of man is G‑d’s candle, that candle is constantly burning and never ceases or changes. As the Alter Rebbe quipped “a Jew cannot and does not want to be separated from G‑dliness.” (See HaYom Yom, 21 Sivan)

This concept is hinted at in the usage of the word “you” instead of the name. A name is only a superficial appellation to the person’s self which exists even before the person is named.

While it is true that a person’s name is bound to the root of his soul and it provides the conduit for the life-force to be drawn down from the soul root to the soul that is enclothed in the physical body, we are still talking about strata of the soul below the true essence. The true essential being is loftier than the soul-root and loftier than any name; no name can encompass it for it is the lofty essence, part of the Supernal Being above.

When we speak of connecting this soul essence with G‑dliness we do not speak of connecting two separate, independent entities, rather we speak of two things which are essentially one.

At the close of the portion of Tetzaveh once again there is reference to this state “you shall make the incense-burning altar.” The word ketores — incense — has the root of tying together, for this alludes to the ultimate connection between the Jewish soul and G‑d.

We may now explain why the verse first mentions the higher state of continual burning.

Notwithstanding his or her external condition, every Jew, by virtue of his/her essential being, is connected to and bound to the true Essence of G‑d. This bond exists in every Jew from the most honored elder to a newborn baby and from the most learned scholar to the insignificant simpleton. By virtue of this essential bond the connection is also continuous, like the always-burning lamps. This is the reason the Torah first speaks of the continuously-burning lamps. The foundation of all systems of Divine service is the eternal essential bond between G‑d and man alluded to in the words “And you must command!”

We may find a daily expression of this eternal process in the first words we say upon awakening: “I offer praise to You...” When a Jew awakes in the morning and becomes a new being it is too early for the various levels and individual powers to be manifest, instead the essential being supersedes all other powers. This is the “Ani” —the “I” (in this sense the first person pronoun “I” is similar to the second person pronoun “you.”) At the moment of waking the essential “I” is in a state of thanks, subservience and cleavage to the inner life Above — the true Essence. Coming at the start of the day this serves as the basis upon which all further action and function in Divine service is built. This connection and devotion of the essence of the soul to the Essence of G‑d infuses all the other activities of the day in a manner of a “constantly-burning lamp.”

In order to reveal and tap this power we must be involved in Torah study. For although G‑d’s supernal thought of the Jewish souls preceded Torah — nevertheless in the temporal world the route to connection with G‑d is through Torah. As the Zohar states, the Jewish people connect themselves with Torah and Torah is tied to G‑d. This is especially true through the esoteric teachings of Torah, which unites the inner soul of the Jew with the inner Essence of the Holy One, Blessed be He. Through that process the inner essential bond between G‑d and the Jewish people is also revealed.

So Scripture states “And you must command,” and then it goes on to speak of the oil — oil is wisdom — Torah — especially the esoteric teachings, as explained in Chassidus that the revealed aspects of Torah is the light and the esoteric wisdom is the luminary. This is revealed in the “continuously burning lamp” in a real way in the Torah and then in the “evening to morning” state, which represents mitzvos. But since the individual lives with Torah even the individual mitzvos are permeated by the “continuous” light. And here the state of “evening to morning” adds even to the eternal state, for night to day indicates in immeasurable increase and ascent.

In this leap year we are now close to Purim Katan (the 14th of Adar I). Purim is connected with the theme of self-sacrifice, the power which stems from the inner essence of a Jew.

Chassidus explains that during the period that Haman’s decree stood intact — nearly a year’s time — all the Jewish people stood in a state of active self-sacrifice, everyday and every moment, for at every moment they were ready to sacrifice their lives and not give up their faith. Not one Jew even entertained a negative thought (see Torah Or, Megillas Esther 120d). In other words, during this period their essential bond with G‑d stood in a revealed state.

This intense feeling was then transmitted to their practical observance. Which is why: “The Jews accepted and fulfilled” that which they had previously accepted at Matan Torah (Shabbos 88a). This is clearly alluded to in the verse “The Jews accepted that which they had previously done” (Esther 9:27), Matan Torah was only the beginning, while the main acceptance of Torah took place during the episode of Purim, for the force of self-sacrifice penetrated to every level of Torah observance and Torah study.

This was all done with a spirit of gladness and joy as Chassidus explains the role of Aharon to bring light and joyousness to the Jewish people.

In a leap year this penetration into detail is more pronounced, since there are two Purim’s, one minor and one major, indicating different levels of devotion and essential powers of the soul.

When Tetzaveh is the day before Purim Katan it is a propitious time to take new strength in faith and devotion which will then infuse all areas of practice and action. This is especially true when we study the esoteric teachings, of which it is said, “Know the L‑rd of your father and serve Him with a complete heart.” (IDivrei HaYamim 28:9)

Most specifically we should study the teachings of the Previous Rebbe, the extension of Moshe in our generation. Through him we attain the state of “And you must command.” He is the shepherd of Israel who nurtured the Jewish people and inspired them with faith and self-sacrifice in an innermost way.

On this day everyone should undertake to study the Previous Rebbe’s discourse (וקבל היהודים) “And the Jews Accepted, 5687” in which he explains the role of Moshe to nurture the faith and self-sacrifice of the Jewish people even in the time of galus, as in the period of Mordechai and Esther — so that they reach the state of luminary.

The Previous Rebbe taught this discourse on Purim Katan 5687 (1927) at a time when he stood in great personal danger and he did not show any fear for his own welfare. In fact he had been warned that there were spies present who would use his words against him, which in fact happened as he was arrested later that year.

Despite all this he spoke words of spiritual defiance and soulful inspiration to awaken and motivate his followers with tremendous enthusiasm to carry on their work in Torah and mitzvos, despite all the oppression, with the full power of self-sacrifice.

The Gemara states: “We may attend to communal matters on Shabbos” (see Shabbos 150a), it will surely be beneficial to start studying the aforementioned discourse today and to continue into Purim Katan and through Shushan Purim Katan. Do this in addition to the regular customs of Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan (as outlined in Shulchan Aruch) as well as the customary practice of studying the laws of Purim thirty days in advance and the Chassidic teachings associated with Purim.

Tzedakah should also be increased, for Purim is especially connected with the practice of charity to the poor, so that everyone who stretches out his hand is given assistance.

Most certainly there should be an increase in joy for “When the month of Adar begins one increases joy” (Taanis 29a), and this includes the month of Adar I. The redemption of Pesach is connected to Adar since Moshe was born on the seventh of Adar. May we merit to see the true redemption even before Purim Katan.

And although we use the term katan — small — therein lies greatness, for Yaakov was called small, Dovid was the smallest, and the moon was the small luminary yet “this small one will be great” with the true and complete redemption. This is also connected to the 14th of the month when the moon begins to reach its full state. We are now in the “first” Adar and “first” is connected to the Beis HaMikdash and Mashiach: (see Yirmeyahu 17:12 and Yeshayahu 41:27) and then we will see our teacher, “And you must command” with great joy.

May the true and complete redemption come through our righteous Mashiach and then we will go with our youth and elders, sons and daughters and those who will “arise from the dust” the Previous Rebbe at their head, all together to the Holy Land, to Yerushalayim, the Holy City, and to Tzion.