The Greatest Gift
Yael Eckstein | April 17, 2023
In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come. — Exodus 27:21
Compassion is one of Judaism’s highest values and this caring concern and empathy for our fellow human beings is considered one of the three distinguishing marks of being Jewish. Enjoy these 11 devotions on this very important concept for Christians and Jews.
I was coming out of the supermarket with a cart full of groceries. As is often the case, the heavy cart was difficult to maneuver. As I was struggling and concentrating on not losing control, a beggar sitting nearby asked me for help, cup in hand. I looked at him and smiled. “How about this?” I said. “I’ll help you, and you can help me. I can really use some help getting this cart to my car and unloading it.”
The beggar sprang to his feet. He took the cart from me, asked me where my car was parked, and helped me until everything was carefully loaded. I certainly helped him with some charity, but one thing was clear from the look on his face — the greatest help I had given him that day was the opportunity to do something for me.
The Greatest Gift
In the Book of Exodus, we read about the commandment to light the lamps [Menorah] in the Tabernacle each evening, “In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.”
The Jewish sages pose the question: Does God need our light? God — Who creates and provides light to us — obviously has no use for seven candles burning all night in the Temple. So why must we light the Menorah?
The sages answered with the following parable: A blind person and a person with sight were walking together, and the sighted person led the blind person until night arrived and it became dark. The sighted person handed the blind person a candle and said: “I want you to light this for me so that you won’t feel a debt of gratitude for what I have done for you. Now you will have done something for me, too.”
When God commands us to light the lampstand, it’s not for His benefit. It’s for ours — so that we can feel a sense of worth and contribution. Every person needs to feel valuable and valued by others.
In addition to providing material support to those who are needy, we must also pay attention to their emotional and spiritual needs as well. Sometimes, asking for someone else’s help is the greatest gift we can give.
Is there someone who is alone or needy who you can call upon for assistance? You may be giving them the greatest gift.