When one hears mussar and rebuke, it can be followed by three types of reactions. The most undesirable one is when the listener goes into complete denial. He is likened to the congregant in shul who hears the Rav’s admonition and is one hundred percent sure that the Rav is addressing everyone else except him. For type one there is little hope of self change. The only silver lining in his condition is that he will avoid sadness and be in a state of external happiness by not realizing his deteriorating religious status.
The second type is one whose response is that of melancholy and depression. Realization of failure and shortcoming can paralyze present and future conduct. It can bring about feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem to the point where it causes the stunting of growth. One becomes overwhelmed with feelings of unworthiness, deflated ego and the loss of resolve to continue to ascend the ladder of ruchniyus and life.
The third response is of a more positive nature. After the initial encounter with brokenness, one girds the strength of purpose and says to himself, true I realize a setback in my ascent, a flaw in my character, but through self introspection and commitment I will rectify the wrong and continue my ascent in spirituality. Baruch Hashem this flaw has been pointed out to me so now I can return on my journey to attain shelaimus. Concerning this reaction of rededication, a tsaddik once remarked that the greatest shelaimus and wholesomeness is a broken heart. At first this seems like a contradiction; whole versus broken, how can they both exists simultaneously? The answer is that if the brokenness of heart is only momentarily and does not paralyze one’s growth, then it transforms to be a positive drive in one’s ascent to Hashem better known as a ירידה לצורך עלייה.
This concept can be seen from the Sotah who was warned by her husband not to seclude herself with another man. When she continued to seclude herself she is asked to drink the Sotah Potion in order to determine whether she committed adultery. If the waters prove her innocence then she is blessed with children; if she did not have any until now she will merit to give birth, if she gave birth previously she will merit to give birth to twins etc. These berachos are difficult to understand. After all, this lady is surely no Rebbetzin or tzadekes after secluding herself with another man on the back of her husband’s reprimanding her concerning her brazen actions. The answer is that being secluded with another man she was very tempted to have relations with him and nevertheless as proven by the Sotah Waters she controlled herself and committed herself to become more righteous. The scenario of seclusion was destined by nature to have ended with an adulterous act, but it didn’t. The wife did not lose her sight of spiritual growth even after realizing the lowliness of her act of secluding herself with the intention of committing adultery. She did not fall into despair and the feelings of worthlessness which would have implemented her to commit consummate the act anyway as most people would have done in her situation. For this victory of not allowing herself to fall into yiush embracing her stark realization of her unwholesomeness, the Torah rewards her with these berachos.
Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillimהרופא לשבורי לב ומחבש לעצבותם (147 3) Hashem heals the broken hearted and bandages their melancholy. Dovid is really describing the two types of reactions to the discovery of faultiness within oneself. The broken hearted are only momentarily stunned but not stunted, for right away they use the debit found in their character to turn it into a credit and serve as a booster to reach newer heights with renewed vigor and safeguards. For such a positive reaction, Hashem brings an immediate refuah. In contrast is the individual who allows the immediate feelings of a blown out ego and worthlessness to take control over his life by paralyzing his present and future ascent. For such a response of sadness עצב Hashem gives him bandages so at least he won’t deteriorate any further.
It is here where the Torah is alluding to us that the third type of reaction after one’s realizing of his shortcoming is the most favorable and desired; to strengthen and pick himself up, shake off the dirt, and go further with renewed dedication. שבע יפול צדיק וקם. The message of the Torah is to continue lighting the lights and not to fall into immobility.כתית למאור ולא למנחות when one’s ego gets smashed, he should strengthen himself to continue למאור to create more lights by increasing his avodas Hashem which is in contrast למנחות that he chooses to lament and fall into self pity and spiritual paralyzation.
The seforim tell us concerning the first and second Bais Hamikdash that their destruction was in preparation for the third. An analogy to this is the scenario when one imports from a distant land a plant in order to grow in his climate. Even after the planting, it grows only a little and then it eventually dies. Nevertheless, the accomplishment was that the earth was prepared a little to accept another planting of the same. The second planting lasts longer than the first even though it eventually dies. In the third attempt the plant does not die. The earth has been prepared by the first two planting to be able to sustain the plant even though the climate and earth in the new geographic area were not initially accepting and embracing this foreign entity.
So too, the third Bais Hamikdash’s light is so other worldly that it would not be able to exist in this world. Hashem therefore planted a first Bais Hamikdash in order to prepare the world for its third coming. After its destruction Hashem prepared the world with a second Bais Hamikdash. That too was destroyed. Both destructions were in preparation of the Third Bais Hamikdash’s light that will herald in the era of Hashem Echad. This is hinted in the word כתית למאור. The years of the first and second Bais Hamikdashos’s existences were כת420 years and ית 410 years. They were both smashed and destroyed. However, the churban of both were for למאור to bring in the light of the Third Bais Hamikdash במהרה בימנו.
Even our own spiritual churban should have the reaction of renewed inspiration with the fortitude and courage to build a better edifice of avodah and bring about a brighter light for Hashem.
Immediately following the commandment of the type of oil required for the menorah, the Torah elaborates on the clothing of the Kohen necessary to be worn during his avodah in the Bais Hamikdash. The connection between the two is the theme of turning one’s setback into an even stronger comeback. The eight attires that the Kohen Gadol must wear originate in the chait of the Aitz Hadaas. The Baal Haturim writes on the passuk (Berishis 3,21) that Hashem made for Adam eight clothings parallel to the Kohen Gadol which is hinted in the eight words of that passukויעש ה’ אלקים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות אור וילבשם. The question arises that before Hashem’s clothing, Adam already made for himself fig coverings for his nakedness. Chazal say that the Aitz Hadaas was a fig tree. Adam sought a constant reminder of his sin. Why did Hashem make other clothing the attire of the Kohen Gadol for Adam?
Even though Adam failed in his mission of restraining from eating fruit of the Aitz Hadaas, Hashem did not want Adam to fall into melancholy and depression. Hashem was unhappy with such an approach of a constant reminder of one’s sin for it might cause Adam to fall into depression. Hashem wanted Adam to renew his dedication of avodas Hashem with the feelings of inspiration with honor and glory, לכבוד ולתפארת which describes the eight attires of Kohen Gadol (Shmos 28,2). Hashem therefore made for Adam these clothing that would promote such a self image to serve Hashem.
The juxtaposition of the oil of the menorah and the Bigdei Kehunah both teach the desirable reaction to spiritual falling. Take the setback and turn it into a comeback.