G-d spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to Aaron and say to him: When you kindle the
lamps (of the Menorah), towards the face of the Menorah shall their light be
directed” (Numbers Ch.8 v.1-2). Rashi
explains that when Aaron saw the sacrificial offerings the head of the tribe
offered at the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), he felt bad that the
tribe of Levi (of which he was part) was not included. The reason the Levites
and the Kohanim ( priests who were Levites descended from Aaron) were not
included in the number of tribes, and were not given an inheritance in the Land
of Israel is as follows: During the incident of the golden calf the Levites were
the only tribe that was not at all involved. This was typical of the Levites, as
even during the bitter years of enslavement in Egypt they had never been
enslaved, as they were too busy studying Torah and Pharoh left them alone.
two things displayed the true essence of the Levites: spirituality. G-d did not
want them to be worrying about tending to their land. This was not to be their
role; rather, they would be the caretakers of the Temple (The Levites sang every
day in the Tabernacle/Temple and transported the Tabernacle when the Jews
traveled; the Kohanim were in charge of the actual running of the
Tabernacle/Temple, i.e. sacrifices, lighting the Menorah, etc…). If the
Levites were in charge of the running of the Temple, why would Aaron care that
they were not represented at the tribe’s offerings at the dedication of the
Rabbi Gedalya Schorr, Dean of Rabbinical Seminary Torah V’Da’as, who passed away in 1979, explains: Each head of a tribe offered up the exact same sacrifice (see Numbers Ch.7). Moshe did not want to accept their sacrificial offerings, however, as he did not understand their intentions behind the offerings, until G-d told him to accept it. This was one of the first manifestations of the Oral Law. The body of each sacrifice was identical. The reason and intent each one put behind the offering was different.
is how we relate to the Oral Law. The body of law is the same for every Jew
(with minor variation in detail). But the intent behind it can be different for
each Jew. The Vilna Gaon says that when the Jews accepted the Torah each person
related to it in 70 different ways.
concept answers the age-old dilemma. How can a Jew retain his individuality
while at the same time keeping the Torah the same as millions of other people.
Aaron saw he did not have an offering he worried that perhaps the Levites would
not be able to express their individuality through the Oral Law. Then Moshe
appeased him by saying, “You will have the honor of the daily lighting of the
Menorah is the symbol of the Oral law. As opposed to the Ark, which was
interacted with once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Menorah was interacted with
every day. This is metaphorical to our relationship with the Written and the
Oral Law. The Written law, although to be studied, is the word of G-d. The Oral
Law, although one cannot make up random laws at will, is meant for us as humans
to fulfill. Thus, even if one is proven right in the Heavenly court, yet proven
wrong in the earthly court, the person is judged to be wrong. The Torah was
given to man, to be used by man (see Talmud Tractate Bava Metsia 87b).
Constant interaction and study of the Torah are required. This is similar to the Menorah, which symbolizes the Jewish peoples relationship to the Torah.