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The challenge inside the box

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I once gave a lecture to some students when, at the end, one of them asked: "All the lecturers tell us to think outside the box. It seems to me that what is most original is to think inside the box." 

It's fine that there is within us a perpetual aspiration to innovate, but what about simply doing what is necessary, without embellishment?

In this week's Torah portion, Aharon HaKohen receives a command: to light the Menorah. The Torah describes Aharon's response to this call to action in a few words: "And he did so." Rashi's comment highlights the significance of these simple words: "This is in praise of Aharon, that he did not deviate (from God's command)."

What Aharon does, cannot be taken for granted and is deserving of praise. Aharon neither adds to God's command, nor takes anything away from it. He does not innovate and does not try an alternative approach. He neither enhances nor diminishes. "And he did so." With simplicity, with innocence, with devotion, with obedience. Recall that the first sin in the Garden of Eden, that of eating from the forbidden fruit, occurred because of an inability to be exact, to obey the clear instructions that were given.

Is our regular routine actually the biggest innovation? Is the consistent observance of a mitzvah, after all, the truest spiritual challenge? And how many such missions await us in life, simply to be fulfilled in the proper way?


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