The word mitzvah is derived from the root word tzavsah which means to join. Tongs which is an instrument that has two separated parts but join together to grasp an object is also called tzavsah. Therefore the purpose of a mitzvah is to serve as a tool to unite one with Hashem. One can even say more that the ultimate goal of a mitzvah is for one to unite and to become one with the mitzvah. In the Briskian terminology it can be stated that performing a mitzvah is not only about the physical cheftzah, the object of the mitzvah but also about the gavrah, the fulfiller of the mitzvah. For instance from what perspective should we possess when fulfilling the mitzvah of Tefillin? Is it to bind the tefillin to one’s body or to bind oneself to the tefillin and its contents? The answer makes a world of a difference. Another example is one’s perspective concerning the purpose of Tefillah. Is it to daven or to reflect the effect of davening in oneself as Dovid Hamelech said va’anee tefillah I am an expression of tefillah. The latter perspective is hinted in the word to daven להתפלל and not לפלל.  The latter word means to perform an act of tefillah while the first word used for davening is in the reflective tense. Take Shabbos as yet another example.  Are we just to keep Shabbos through its rituals or to become so identified with our neshama yesairah to the point that Shabbos is mamesh an integral part of our being? In the Lecha Dodi we say pnei Shabbos nekablah which translates our request that the face of Shabbos we should merit to receive on ours.

Let us now examine the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah in the Mishkan and see how it relates to this concept.

אל מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעת הנרות the meforshim ask it should have saidיאירו שש הנרות for if the interpretation of מול פני המנורה  means the נר מערבי  which was in the middle then the passuk should have said the six lights three on the left and three on the right face the seventh which is in the middle?

The seven branches of the menorah symbolize the seven middos of a person which need tikkun. The lighting of the menorah therefore means that one must internalize the brightness of the middos until he himself becomes a menorah. This is hinted in the words אל מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעת הנרות The מול פני המנרה is the person who lights the menorah and stands opposite to it while lighting. It is in oneself that he must light the seven middos removing them from their darkness and subjugate them to be enlightened with the holy light of Hashem’s will.

The passuk says ויעש כן אהרן . Why mention אהרן which seems superfluous? The Torah wants to stress that not only did Ahron light the menorah but he also lit the menorah within himself.

Rashi comments להגיש שבחו של אהרן שלא שינה. We can interpret this to mean that this was the praise of Ahron that he did not change an iota in the parallel lighting of the menorah in himself just as he lit the physical menorah in the Mishkan. He was an example of the mirror Menorah.

When I was growing up there were records for kids which used the term Mitzvah Man. It does not state a man who fulfills mitzvos but rather a man who is filled with mitzvos that his entire being is mitzvos. It is great that this subliminal message was being brought to us at such a young age to implant within us kids to strive for the higher standard of mitzvah fulfillment.

Once a group of Chassidim returned from spending Shabbos at another Rebbe and when questioned by their Rebbe concerning what special thing did they see, they answered that when the Rebbe was making Kiddush the wine was bubbling. Their Rebbe just smiled and remarked whether or not the wine was miraculously cooking, the more important issue is that the one making the Kiddush was cooking with passion.

Gut Shabbos
Rav Brazil