The week’s parsha begins with God talking to Moshe, telling him to instruct Aharon about lighting the Menorah. The midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 15:7) tells us the windows of the Beis Hamikdash were cone shaped (<) usually when a window is shaped like so, the narrow part faces the outside and the light spreads inside as the window widens facing the room. Not so for the Beis Hamikdash. In the Beis Hamikdash the narrow end was on the inside and widened on the outside so that the light from within could spread out to the world. We know according to the pasuk that “The soul of man is the lamp of God” (Mishlei 20:27) for just like a lamp shines its light and illuminates darkness so too may a soul illuminate the world with its light, with its lamp. The Menorah is lit with oil and a wick and it is taught that the oil is compared to spirituality and the wick is compared to physicality. Alone neither can sustain a flame, but together an illuminating lamp is formed. In truth both are mundane objects that are used for holiness, same with the leather of our Tefillin or the wool of our Tzitzis strings, we have many opportunities to utilize mundane materials and craft them into a holy medium of spirituality.
Even the most lifelike, striking painting was created from the basics; a brush and some paint. What really made the work of art so amazing was the artist masterfully planning each stroke and attending to the smallest details. So too in our lives we have an opportunity to make the soul we have within into a spiritual masterpiece worthy of inspiring awe into the dark world around us. Is this holy, great soul created from sitting for hours studying Torah, swaying with passion in prayer? No, for these are the expressions of our soul. The medium with which we create a masterpiece of our soul are the basics of this world. Using the most mundane of tools, through the physical aspects of this world we can form a spiritual masterpiece. It takes extreme dedication and effort in order to create a masterpiece out of the regular things we interact with each day but with physicality as our paint and brush we can learn to uplift the mundane to holiness. When we do so we put brush to canvas, creating an ever higher masterpiece with each stroke. We as the artist have the opportunity to uplift the basest “paint and brush” into a spiritual masterpiece. The window to our soul is also like that of the Beis Hamikdash. No one can put the illumination inside of us, we must utilize our own materials – our own paint and brush, our personal oil and wick – to form the lamp of our soul. But when we are shining it is apparent to the whole world, for the window spreads wide to the dark world around us illuminating it and its inhabitants. Only through both the oil and wick can a fire illuminate, so too only through the mundane things we encounter do we have an opportunity to uplift and bring tremendous light and blessing to our lives and the world around us.