The Purity of Clarity
Rashi on the portion begins by describing the meticulous process that was necessary to produce the oil for the Menorah. The oil had to have the purity of being clear, without sediment.:
They would choose olives from the top of the tree that had not grown with other olives pressing on it. They had to use extremely ripe olives, so that its oil could be extracted with the gentlest touch.
They would carefully squeeze the olive by hand to catch the first and purest drop of oil from each olive.
They could not use a mechanical gadget to crush the olive. They had to be certain that not a single drop of sediment found its way into the Menorah’s oil.
They squeezed a single drop of oil at a time. They were only able to get one perfect drop of oil from each olive.
How many olives did they need to produce enough oil for all seven bowls of the menorah for just one night?
How many hours of painstaking labor to collect enough oil for that one night?
There was nothing wrong with the rest of the olive and its oil. They would grind up the olives and use it for the Mincha offerings. The Menorah oil demanded time, labor, meticulous attention and patience.
What does this Mitzvah teach us about purity?
1) There is purity and there is the purity of clarity. The Menorah, which always symbolizes wisdom, demands the latter. We must present wisdom with clarity.
2) The Purity of clarity demands active work, not avoidance. This pure, clear oil must be produced with patient and meticulous labor. The purity of clear wisdom does not come with avoidance but with work, patient and meticulous work.
3) We are careful with how and where the olive grew. We do not use olives that grew under the weight of other olives. It grew free from pressure.
4) We do not use an olive in which the sediment already began to settle on its own. We must begin the process of separation between pure, clear oil and sediment.
5) We use a very small portion of the olive. A tremendous amount of effort is necessary to find the purity of clarity. Most of the oil, while still holy, will not qualify as possessing the purity of clarity. The same is true of much of our work in serving God.
And there’s more…
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