“You Light Up My Life,” the title of a song popularized in the 1970s, helps to encapsulate a theme in this week’s Parasha, which contains the commandment to light the Menorah. The Midrash in Numbers Rabbah 15:8 asks: Why did God command us to kindle the lamps? After all, God doesn’t physically need light!
The Midrash brings in the following story: A king said to his friend, “I want to have dinner with you at your place. So go get ready!” The friend prepared a nice dinner but all of his furnishings and utensils were simple, from his table to his candlestick. When the friend saw the king approaching his home with all of the king’s pomp and circumstance, including a golden candle stick, the friend decided to put everything that he had prepared away since he was embarrassed by his commonness. The king said to his friend, “Didn’t I give you a heads up that I would be coming over for dinner? Why is nothing ready?!” When the friend explained that he was overwhelmed by the fancy accessories that accompanied the king, the king immediately said that he would dispose of all of his royal utensils and use whatever the friend had in his home. The king’s friend was more important than any of his royal belongings.
The message of this Midrash is clear: God used the Menorah as a vehicle through which Bnai Yisrael would be empowered to do a favor for God. While God may have not benefited physically from the light, God certainly benefited from the understanding that Bnai Yisrael took efforts to contribute to their relationship with God. When do we take the time to let other people shine? How can we allow others to have impacts on our lives? Let the Menorah be a reminder of the rewards of letting other people into our lives.