Parshas Tezaveh
Exodus 27:20 - 30:10

Perfect Oil that Illuminates Torah! ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Channah Sakash Belk, my mother, may she rest in peace .

The Story Of The Belk Family Tomato Plants
Several years ago I began attempting to grow vegetables indoors at 8,500 feet above sea level so Naomi, my wife / soul mate, and I could reduce our food costs. The first year originally I termed a miserable failure. We purchased large 16 gallon containers, organic soil and seeds and began our indoor garden. Little happened. Then we purchased greenhouse plants and transplanted them into our containers. In short order they died. I felt very bad. This was discouraging. After months of Naomi's encouragement I decided to try again. However this time we would make several changes. This was in September of last year.

All of our 16 gallon containers would be close to a window. Originally our containers sat in fashionable places within our home, often over five feet from a narrow window.

Each container would be set on a stand, not the floor as in the past.

We would fill our containers with soil. In fact we made a little mountain in the center above the container rim. This was unlike the past where the soil sat about six to eight inches down into the container. It was difficult for sunlight to reach it.

Next we set a watering schedule / feeding schedule that we have honored with little exception. It was just amazing how this paradigm shift changed our results. Now that is not to say we haven't made many mistakes, but our success is wonderful thank G-d! We have huge tomato plants loaded with tomatoes. That is after we learned how to pollinate the blooms. We enjoy the fragrance of beautiful purple petunias that happily climb our tomato plants. We also have pepper plants, squash, peas and radishes. We are still learning.

One area of fascination is how plants are drawn to sunlight. Three weeks ago we planted seeds that we hope, G-d willing, to transplant outside for the few warm months we enjoy. Many of those seedlings are now several inches above the soil and doing well. Each of them lean in the direction of the sunlight like a little army or a shul of happy daveners praying to Hashem.

This week we read in Parshas Tezaveh about the source of light when Hashem instructs Moshe, "'And, you command B'nei Yisroel. And have them bring to you... olive oil.'" What kind of olive oil? "'...have them bring to you Zawk olive oil.'" What is Zawk olive oil? Zawk olive oil is representative of Hashem who is the source of Light. So what is Zawk? Zawk means "Perfect... Pure... Clean... Clear... Translucent... Spotless.

Dear reader, the actual words are "Sheh Mehn {oil} - Zah Yees {olive} - Zawk {Perfect / Pure}." The purpose of this perfect olive oil was to burn / illuminate the lamp just outside the Partition / Curtain of the Holy Place which is near Ha Ay Doos, the Testimonial Tablets in the Mishkon / Tabernacle. The lamp was to burn continually!

Now, dear reader, there are several points to this great mitzvah. First the olive oil must be pure. It MUST be completely free of sediment. This CANNOT be accomplished by allowing the sediment to settle on the bottom of a container. That is NOT good enough. That is not recognized as the fullest sense of perfect! One must obtain older, well developed olives, olives that are extremely ripe, olives where a slight touch will release the oil without releasing sediment.

Readers, this is like the neshama / soul that through age possesses a great wealth of experience, understanding and wisdom and when gently pressed responds with perfect pure olive oil that is used to illuminate the Torah... the Truth and to glorify Hashem.

A container of olive oil in which sediments settle on the bottom and then are filtered out does produce good oil BUT not the perfect olive oil required to illuminate Torah. This teaches us a lesson! Not all oil is suitable for illuminating Torah. We MUST be careful not to use {i.e., receive} light from oil which has been processed, which has had sediments screened from it. That oil is NOT suitable to illuminate Torah!! The sediments inhibit the spiritual flow. For example, I know of a rabbi who is very charming and warm and has a great deal of charisma. Yet, the good that he does is spoiled because of the sediments which are his fiery, uncontrolled temper. Learning from a person like this is like planting weeds with your vegetables. While you will get vegetables, you will also get problems. It is better to find a teacher without sediments / weeds.

Next, holy reader, in view of these facts we observe our lives. What pressure do we require to produce oil? I am asking, what depth is our spirituality...? What extent is our Torah observance...? What is required for us to produce perfect olive oil at the slightest touch?

Now, dear reader, let's focus on what is required to produce light.

There is the Perfect Light that is representative of Hashem and there is the perfect source of that Light represented by the perfect olive oil burning in the Mishkon. Few of us are on such a high Madraga {level}! We have no Temple... No Tabernacle... No Holy Place... No Lamp... No oil... No Testimonial Tablets...

Story: Glowing With The Oil Of Torah!
So what do we have? What material can we work with? Naomi and I, in our many travels, once were the neighbors of this wonderful older couple. They are like parents to us. We frequented their home many, many times. They extended such kindness and love to us in our early years of marriage and they still do...! We appreciate them so much! This particular story is about the gentleman, a rabbi, a retired businessman, a very serious student of Torah. I cannot count the times that his soul glowed with the perfect oil of Torah. You see, this dear wise Jew has constructed the Holy Temple within his own being. There are days that being with him feels like standing near the lamp that illuminates Torah! May Hashem continue to bless him and his lovely helpmate of many years!!

We could go on an adventure of all those rabbium and other Jews and communities that DO NOT display the evidence of the Holy Temple in their lives but that is a fruitless waste of time. What we who are younger need to do is to develop the Holy Temple in our inner being in preparation for the New Bais HaMikdosh {Holy Temple} and the Moshiach {Messiah}!

At JewishPath we labor to identify problems and methods to resolve our problems. We have discussed many areas on self improvement. To learn in a specific area all that one needs to do is go to Search Jewish Path and click on the link. A search window appears. Type in the subject of interest. Every lesson in which we discuss that issue soon appears.

May Hashem bless each of us with excellent learning skills, great Torah learning, Torah knowledge and Torah observance! May we develop into that "perfect olive oil!"

Good Shabbos!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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