Fueling Our Faith

Yael Eckstein  |  February 26, 2024

Close up of hands holding harvested olives.

Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. — Exodus 27:20

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. This week’s Torah portion is Tetzaveh, which means “contributions,” from Exodus 27:20-30:10.

When I find myself struggling, I look to the faith of those who came before me, and I am encouraged. Their faith in the midst of such darkness shines like a beacon of light that guides me on my own journey.

I think of my grandfather who survived the Holocaust while most of his family and friends were murdered by the Nazis. Yet, even in his most difficult moments, he never doubted that God was with him. His faith was forged by fire and utterly unbreakable.

This week’s Torah portion begins with a commandment to continually kindle the lampstand in the Tabernacle, which brought spiritual illumination to the world. Notably, Scripture specified that only olive oil was to be used to light the lampstand. Why?

Jewish tradition teaches that olives have a special quality. What would destroy most kinds of food only makes olives better. For most produce, the more they are beaten and battered, the less desirable they are. However, the more that olives are crushed and ground, the more valuable they become. A crushed olive produces oil, an extremely valuable substance that can, among other things, help produce light.

Fueling Our Faith

In Jeremiah 11:16, God compared Israel to “a thriving olive tree with fruit beautiful in form.” Like olives, the more Israel was crushed, the greater they became, and the more faith they exuded.

Today, we are also called to grow through adversity and strengthen our faith when we go through trials. In the Christian Bible, the author of Hebrews wrote, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

For every bump and bruise that we acquire, we must shine ever brighter. Our faith has the power to inspire faith in others and help illuminate their path when they encounter dark times.

Your Turn:

How do you fuel your own faith in hard times? Share your answer in the comments below—I’d love to know!