Fire’s Past, Present & Future – Tetzaveh: A Ten Commandments’ Tale

nice and some not-so-nice restaurants approach candlelight dining in a bizarre fashion. battery operated flashlight-like devices serve to spark of romance and intimacy at the table. the days of the sensuous glass ball housing an oil lit flame are waning. making the matter worse, these modern lights have simulated flames!

fire, as an instrument, is dying in urban communities. electric stoves, l.e.d. light bulbs, and gas fireplaces have removed fire from humanity’s eyes. even matchbooks are becoming a scarcity.

fire, for thousands upon thousands of years, served as a game changer. it was instrumental in transforming cave dwellers and making them urbanites. fire provided warmth, safety and tastier food. fire made pots, forged metal works and instruments of war. fire created occupations. fire baked bread.

in the torah portion tetzaveh, it provides “and you shall command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually. in the tent of meeting, outside the dividing curtain that is in front of the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall set it up before the lord from evening to morning; [it shall be] an everlasting statute for their generations, from the children of israel.” exodus 27:21-22

what does this portion tell us? it tells us of the spiritual nature of fire. an entire community can contribute to a fire and its continuation by supplying the fuel. it tells us of a spiritual need to have light in times of darkness. its reminds us of the continual presence of the master of the universe who is there in both the daytime and the nighttime.

what is the future of fire? fire will remain as a sign of spirituality. candles are lit for a variety of occasions by many faiths. within judaism, the fire marks the beginning and conclusion of the sabbath, fire is offered with memorial candles, and fire is celebrated with hanukah menorah.

beyond the use of fire in religious function, fire’s unique properties tie humanity closer to the master of the universe. a rabbi commented that the uniqueness of fire is that it can be shared with others with no diminishment. one can use one fire to make another. the torah portion adds to this notion in that we can all contribute fuel to maintain a spiritual fire within a community.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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