We Can Become God’s Light

Yael Eckstein  |  February 3, 2022

Yael Eckstein lights Hanukkah menorah with son

Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. — Exodus 25:31

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Terumah, which means “contributions,” from Exodus 25:1–27:19.

Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna lived in the 18th century and was unquestionably the greatest rabbi of the time. He was known as the Gaon (genius) of Vilna. He was both the greatest authority on matters of Jewish law, as well as the greatest spiritual guide and visionary of his time, and for generations after. His teachings are still revered and studied to this day.

What was most remarkable about the Gaon was his encyclopedic knowledge of not only every word of the Bible, but of all the books of the Talmud and rabbinic teaching in existence. He seemed to know everything.

He was once asked how he became the Gaon, how he managed to learn so much in his life. He answered, “It only took a minute.” Then he explained, “I made sure to use every minute. In all those minutes when we’re between things or waiting for someone, I made sure to study. Little by little, minute by minute.”

We Can Become God’s Light

I thought about this powerful lesson when I was reading about the menorah, the seven-branched lamp in this week’s Torah portion. The menorah is one of the most famous symbols of the Jewish people because it represents our mission to be a “light for the nations” (Isaiah 49:6, ESV). But the source of this light is what the menorah really represents — the Bible and the vast storehouse of Jewish wisdom throughout the ages.

God commanded that the menorah be made by hammering it out from a single piece of gold (Exodus 25:31,36). This is puzzling. For such a complex object, it would have been so much easier for each piece of the menorah to be made separately and then welded together into one piece. Or maybe the entire menorah could have been cast from a mold.

Why did God command them to make it by hammering, a process that seemingly would take so much longer and make each detail so much more difficult to create?

God was teaching us a lesson about our own mission. There are no shortcuts to being a light to others. God’s wisdom takes time. The light of God shines forth from us when we carefully use every minute and pay attention to every detail. By using every minute that we are given, we can become God’s light, the menorah, to the world.

Your Turn:

Are there “extra” minutes in your day that you can use to study more of God’s Word? Bring a Bible or other inspirational book with you on your errands and use those minutes wisely.

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