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Crushed for the Light

"And you shall command the children of Israel and they shall bring you pure olive oil, crushed for the light, to keep a constant lamp burning."

Generally, the Torah introduces commandments with the expression, "Command the children of Israel." This verse, however, states, "And you shall command the children of Israel." This directive, issued to Moses, indicates that he is the one issuing the command. This requires explanation, for Moses only served as an agent to transmit G-d's command to the Jewish people. Another question that can be asked on this verse is: The people were commanded to bring to Moses "pure olive oil, crushed for the light." Wouldn't a more appropriate word choice be "crushed to illuminate?"

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Joseph I. Schneerson, explains in a chassidic discourse that the Hebrew word for command, "tzivui," is related to the word tzavta, which means connection or bond. Thus, the verse "and you shall command the children of Israel" implies that Moses binds and connects the Jewish people with G-d's infinite light.

In every generation, there is a leader similar to Moses, whose task it is to serve as a "faithful shepherd" of the Jewish people, nurturing them and instilling them with faith. In particular, when the Jewish people are in exile, they feel broken and crushed, and thus are able to approach a very high source of spiritual light.

The Moses of each generation helps the Jewish people overcome the challenges and burdens of exile, and approach the true light. The experience of being "crushed" in exile can take two forms. There are times when the Jewish people are crushed due to oppressive decrees, or difficult economic and physical conditions. Yet, even when Jews are living in spiritual freedom and physical comfort, they can still feel crushed - just because they are in exile.

The true desire of every Jew is that G-dliness be revealed in the world in the fullest sense. This affects the essence of a Jew's being. Thus, the mere fact that we are in exile, where G-dliness is concealed, causes us to feel crushed. This sense of being broken over the exile draws out the deepest levels of a Jew's soul - the "light."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Moses of our generation, inspired and lead a generation of Jews to feel truly crushed and broken over the exile, and exhorted us to do all that is within our power to hasten the complete revelation of Moshiach. Despite the fact that we live in a free country, in relative affluence, the Rebbe never allowed us to be satisfied with the status quo. The Rebbe himself deeply felt the pain of exile, and constantly innovated new projects and activities to keep us moving forward, to bring the revelation of G-dliness into this world. Through our efforts in this matter, we will merit the true redemption in the near future, when the revelation of G-dliness will permeate the entire world.

(Based on a Chassidic discourse of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, V'Atah Tetzaveh, 5741)



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