Tuesday, May 29, 2007

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Sharing Light

by Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

In this week’s portion of the Torah, Moshe told God that his burden was too great. He could not take it anymore. With all of the troubles that being a leader of the Jewish People brings, he needed help!

God said, “Gather to Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, . . . and I will awtzel from the spirit that is upon you and place it upon them and they will share the burden of the people with you, and you will not bear alone.” [i]

The question is, what did God actually do to the spirit that He had already placed on Moshe?

The root of the word for what He did is awtzel. If it were nozal, as it seems it should be, there would be no question, for nozal means “to take away from,” “to deliver” or “to snatch away.” This would seem to fit the meaning of the Torah here; God “took away” from the spirit that He had previously put on Moshe and gave it to the seventy elders.

But that is not the root of the word. The root meaning of awzel is “to reserve,” “to set aside,” or “to select.” One commentator[ii] goes even further with this idea and states that awtzel here means that God increased the spirit that was upon Moshe. Another commentator [iii] states that like a candle that shares its flame with another wick, after that second wick is lighted, still the first candle loses nothing. This means that Moshe lost nothing when he shared his spirit with the seventy elders.

When you bring an unlighted wick next to one that is burning, look closely at them and you will see that both of these commentaries are correct. When the flame spreads to the new wick, it increases onto the new wick but it also increases the original flame. Also, when you bring one lighted flame close to another lighted flame, they will lean toward each other and join to make a greater flame than they were making alone.

What is the practical application of this? The Talmud says, “From my students have I learned the most.”[iv] When you share your understanding of Torah with another person, whether with a student or a learning partner, not only will you not lose anything (as one commentator said), but also you will actually increase your understanding and your spiritual share (as the other commentator said).

Your understanding will increase because you will have to understand the subject better in order to teach it to someone who does not understand it, or by delving into it with your friend.

Your spiritual position also will increase, not merely because your understanding of Torah increased, but because you helped another person to increase too. His life will be improved because you shared with him, and so will yours. You will you reap the benefits of having helped someone grow, and the One Who looks down from above is going to see you serving Him and will give you the opportunity to do it again.

[i] Num 11:17
[ii] Onkelos
[iii] Rashi Num 11:17
[iv] Tannis 7a

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.

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