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Leadership with Purity of Purpose

Parashat Behalotcha (Num. 8:1–12:16) is read this week in the Diaspora and opens with the lighting of the Menorah. The Menorah, beaten from one mass of "zahav tahor,” (pure gold) is fueled by the purest of oil. When illuminated, the light from the seven branches shines onto the center shaft. This is a physical representation of Israel's relationship with God—even our own relationship. On one level, the seven branches are symbolic of how each of us can harness our unique God-given talents to point others to the one true God. Pure gold can be hammered or pressed permanently into shape, retaining its beauty and strength without breaking or cracking. The Menorah is modern Israel's national symbol, confirming it as a Light to the Nations, a mission that requires purity of purpose and unbreakable unity of the Jewish People. In eretz Israel, Parashat Shelach (Num.13:1-15:41) is read. This Torah portion relates the mission of the Twelve Spies sent to scout the Promised Land. Only two of them recognized actual promise and opportunity while the others saw only defeat, resulting in an evil report on the Land, dated 9th of Av. National hysteria ensued (except for the women). The repercussions are still with us today. Wrapping up the parsha is the command for Jewish men to wear tzitzit (fringes)—a daily reminder that God and His Torah prevent being led astray by what they see. When the leadership of Israel eventually comes together, to access the wisdom of Torah and embraces their mission as a Light to the Nations then they will reverse the effects of the 9th of Av and usher in the fulfillment of Zechariah 8:23, when ten men from the nations grab the tzit-tzit of a Jew and say,”Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you!”

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