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Lighting until the flame rises on its own

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Pay attention to the words of Rashi at the beginning of this week's Torah portion. He explains Aharon's lighting of the menorah in the Mishkan as follows: "He shall light it until the flame rises on its own."

Many commentators ask us to pause here: This is not just about the technical lighting of the menorah. Aharon HaKohen is the people's spiritual mentor and he is, in fact, teaching us how to light a fire and generate enthusiasm in those under our wing: whether we are managers, military officers, teachers, or parents.

Initially, we have the task of simply lighting a fire. To educate, to explain, to pay close attention and to inspire. But it is impossible to always be there with constant instructions about what to do. A stage is reached where we must loosen our grip and let them fend for themselves. It's a matter of finding the right time to take a step back and allowing them to generate their own light and brighten the worlds around them.

There are no fixed rules here. Sometimes parents must be constantly reassuring and exceedingly patient with a child, while other times they may smother a child with too much attention and need to be more distant. The words of Rashi call upon us to be aware of when to inspire and when to let go, when to supervise and be involved and when to foster independence, "until the flame rises on its own."

Wishing everyone success in this endeavor.

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