young boy was playing on his grandfather's lap. After a few minutes, the man
reached into his pocket and took out two coins. Turning to his excited grandson
he said "My dear boy, I'm giving you these two coins but they are not both
for you. I would like you to take one of these coins and do a special mitzvah
by giving the coin to someone in need. The other coin you can use to buy
yourself an ice-cream at the corner-store". Bouncing from his
grandfather's lap in glee, the young boy ran straight out the front door -
headed for his favorite shop - the ice-cream store. As he ran along the
footpath, tossing his two precious coins into the air in delight, the
inevitable happened - one of the coins fell from his hands and rolled right
down the drain, lost forever. Without a minute's hesitation, the boy turned his
eyes heavenwards and mumbled "Well G-d, there goes your coin".
the Torah we read about the Menorah which was
lit every day in the Temple. G-d commanded Moses to ensure that only the most
"pure olive oil" be used when lighting the Menorah. Our sages tell us
that to fulfill this instruction, only the very first drop of oil - the
absolute finest - was used to kindle the menorah. The remaining oil in the
olive was used for the baking of various flour offerings that were brought in
the Temple and then partially eaten by their owners.
you had two kinds of oil, one of superior quality and one not as fine - which
one would you use for cooking and which one for lighting? Most people would
probably save the best for their palate. So why in the temple was it done the
other way around?
Solomon tells us that "a candle is a mitzvah and the Torah its
light". Torah and mitzvoth have the ability to light up our souls and our
lives. The menorah and its light thus represent Torah and Mitzvot - all things
holy. Conversely, the flour offering which was eaten by its owner symbolizes
the physical, bodily needs of man.
tough economic climate of today has forced many people to cut down on their
living expenses. Unfortunately, very often those cuts start with the kind of
costs that can be called "G-d's expenses". Giving 10% of one's
earnings to charity can be very costly. Living a kosher lifestyle is by no
means cheap. Commitment to daily prayer often means a few minutes less at the
office. But that doesn't mean that when things are tough, "G-d" needs
to be the first to go.
the way the oil was used in the Temple we learn a timeless lesson about
priorities. For Torah and mitzvot - the Menorah- we should be happy to spend,
not compromising on the finest and purest. If we need to make do with less -
let it start with our coin, not G-d's.