“And Aaron shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices; every morning, when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn it.” – Exodus 30:7, JPS 1917 Tanach
In like manner that the menorah was lit every evening, the incense were burnt every morning in the Sanctuary. The light may be understood to represent the wisdom of G-d. “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Psalm 119:18, JPS). The smoke of the incense is symbolic of prayers. We should keep a light burning in our heart, in the evenings; all throughout the night, staying focused on G-d; and, in the morning, ideally to rise early, in order to offer up our prayers to Him.
“Make its seven lamps—the lamps shall be so mounted as to give the light on its front side.” – Exodus 25:37, sefaria.org
“Their light should be directed in the direction of the front of the central branch which forms the candlestick proper.” – Rashi, sefaria.org
“Inasmuch as the lights symbolized spiritual “enlighten-ment,” the lesson is that in all our efforts at obtaining such enlightenment, and during all the digressions that the pursuit of such disciplines necessarily entails, we must never lose sight of the direction in which we are striving and keep this central idea of such enlightenment resulting in us becoming better servants of the L-rd, constantly in front of our mental eye.’” – Sforno, sefaria.org
The seven-candled menorah, that rested in the mishkan (sanctuary), was lit in a manner, whereof the lit wicks, set in oil on top of six of the seven branches, faced the lit wick of the central branch. They illumined the light that shone in the middle of the menorah with their own light. In a manner of speaking, they reflected back the glory of the center light, with their own. Symbolically, the central branch represents Shabbat, while the six other branches represent the weekdays.
Therefore, we can learn from this to let our efforts during the week, enliven the quality of our Shabbat. The weekdays must be “directed” towards the sanctity bestowed upon us on Shabbos from Above. The mundane days of the week require our own efforts at dedicating the hours of each day towards higher spiritual purposes, despite their mundanity. This will also benefit the level of tangible kedushah (holiness) that we will experience on Shabbos. Ultimately, all of our thoughts, speech, and conduct should reflect the kavod (glory) of G-d.
“How abundant is the good that You have in store for those who fear You.”
“And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham.”
– Genesis 26:18, JPS 1917 Tanach
Meor Eynayim explains, that these wells are symbolic of G-d’s wisdom that flowed during the lifetime of Abraham; yet, after his death, his wells were stopped up by the Philistines, representative of the powers of darkness and ignorance, inasmuch that they also impeded the spread of this wisdom (Meor Einayim, Toldos 19; sefaria.org). Symbolically, when Isaac redug the wells of his father, Abraham, he also reopened the flow of divine wisdom into the world.
The wellsprings of wisdom, must be dug within ourselves, until we reach the place where the source of the wisdom flows. This is the essence of the teaching from Meor Einayim. In reference to the verse, “they have forsaken me, the source of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13), he explains that “Blessed G-d is the source from whom comes the flow of life-force to all living things in all manners” (Meor Einayim, Toldos 18; sefaria.org).
Thus, the source of life continually flows from G-d; yet, as the result of sin, we cause a blockage of that source, and are likened to “broken cisterns.” Consequently, we are unable to connect to our “upper root,” the source above us that nourishes our soul. Additionally, our own ignorance compels us to search elsewhere in this world for the truth; yet, here is much spiritual malaise as the result of sin in this world. Our own path should be to turn from the the darkness, towards the light, so that our souls may be renewed with G-d’s wisdom.
Tradition teaches that preceding the time of Moshiach (Messiah), there will be a decline in spiritual understanding, as a result of sinking to “the fiftieth level of impurity.” However, at the beginning of his reign, “it shall come to pass in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem” (Zechariah 14:8). Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, explains that in the future, within Jerusalem, a newfound well that will arise of its own accord, will water all of the surroundings. “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L-RD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9, JPS 1917 Tanach).
Like a spiritual blessing, that manifests in some unknown form, so is the quality, reward, and consequence of following the mitzvot (commandments). Kedushah (holiness) is the tonic of the soul, that may permeate our lives, when we remain committed to an observance of all that the Torah entails, for the sake of our benefit. Regarding the words of wisdom that are the essence of the mitzvos, they are the essential element of our lives. “Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thy heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4:21-22, JPS 1917 Tanach).
Wisdom imparts truth, guiding us through the challenges of our lives. H’Shem is the Source of all life; therefore, He is like a flowing stream of crystal clear water that nourishes our souls. To turn anywhere else, in our misguided attempts to live life without the constraints that only serve to sanctify our lives, is to jeopardize receiving the kedushah available to us. Although intangible, kedushah may be felt, especially on Shabbos, and Yom Tov. To be aware of the state of kedushah upon ourselves, is to live above our lower nature, in a state of perpetual aliveness.