Independence

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Many students are now returning to school. Many students are still at home. All students need to know how to manage the new reality on their own. At the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Aharon HaKohen is given the task of lighting the menorah in the mishkan (portable desert sanctuary). But after lighting it, Rashi explains that he needs to distance himself: "The Kohen shall light it until the flame rises by itself". The flame needs to keep burning on its own; the Kohen must eventually walk away.

Our commentators explain that Aharon HaKohen was the great teacher of the Children of Israel in the desert, and his lighting of the menorah is highly instructive in the field of education: parents and teachers cannot always stand over their children, tell them what to do, motivate them, worry about and push them. Of course, parents and teachers need to light a fire, they need to enthuse, excite, and educate, but there is a limit to control, involvement, and supervision. It's impossible to stand over them and tell them every day to go on Zoom. Especially this year, they need to learn independence. We need to know when to distance ourselves, to loosen our grip, and allow them to act alone, with prayers and hopes that they will continue on their own, out of their own desire. Until the flame rises by itself.

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