Eye Contact
Parashat BeHa’alotekha

Dena Weiss

Parashat BeHa’alotekha opens with the mitzvah to light the menorah, the lamp which illuminates God’s tent which is pitched in the midst of the camp of Benei Yisrael.  The concept of the mishkan is complicated.  On the one hand, the mishkan is supposed to be God’s home, as it were, and so it is modeled on a human home; many of its vessels reflect the furniture that would be in any house—a table, shulhan, a chest, aron, a lamp, menorah.  However, the mishkan is not an ordinary home, it is a house for God, and God does not have any actual need for furniture!  God does not eat at a table, have any belongings to store in a chest, and He does not need a lamp for illumination.  Nevertheless, God does command that we construct furniture for the mishkan and His choice of furnishings is instructive.  The menorah in specific teaches us an important lesson about how to be fully present to one another.  And it gestures to the clearest way to demonstrate that presence and attention: eye contact.

 
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Eye Contact
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