Contributions That Last Forever

Yael Eckstein  |  February 16, 2023

Rabbi Eckstein blessing Yael while in Jerusalem.

Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the LORD commanded Moses. — Numbers 8:3

This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.

I want to tell you about a funeral that was held on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem for a Jewish man from New York. The man had lived to a ripe old age. His life ended without much suffering. Usually, funerals such as this are celebrations of a life well-lived. But this time, everyone was sobbing. The man’s son spoke about his father, a simple and poor man. The son spoke about how when he was younger, he was embarrassed by his father’s lack of material success.

The son spoke of his regret that he appreciated his father so late in life and went on to say how proud he was to continue his father’s legacy of humility. He said that he honored his father’s simple and godly life by raising his own children in Jerusalem where they wouldn’t have a luxurious life, but a meaningful one.

He ended by saying, “Dad, you didn’t have much to leave behind, but you left behind EVERYTHING that matters.” What a testimony!

Contributions That Last Forever

In the Book of Numbers we read about the instruction to Aaron and his sons to set up and light the candelabra in the Tabernacle: “Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the LORD commanded Moses.”

The Jewish sages saw a direct connection between this passage and the one that is just before which speaks of the gifts that the princes from each of the twelve tribes brought to God.

They explained that after watching the princes offer their gifts, Aaron felt bad that he, the head of the priestly family, hadn’t contributed anything. God comforted Aaron, telling him that his contribution would last forever. The preparation of the candles by the priestly family was greater than the gifts of the princes because the lighting of the candelabra would be forever.

But how can God say that the candles were forever when we know that for thousands of years the Temple has been destroyed?

The sages explained that Mattathias, the leader and patriarch of the Maccabees, was a direct descendant of Aaron. The Maccabees, led by this priestly family, successfully defeated the Assyrian-Greek regime that sought to destroy the Jewish faith. This victory is remembered every year on the holiday of Hanukkah by lighting candles. And those candles have been lit forever.

When we keep God’s light burning and pass on our faith to the next generation, those are contributions that last forever.

Your Turn:

Sharing God’s light and passing it on to the next generation is the kind of contribution that lasts forever. It’s not about how much we leave behind in this world; it’s about leaving behind what matters the most.