Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller
Holiness – A Charge from Previous Generations
Parshas Ki Sisa contains the commandment of creating the שמן המשחה – the anointing oil. Rashi comments on the verse of “שמן משחת קדש יהיה זה לי לדרתיכם – This shall be anointing oil for me for generations” that there was a miraculous characteristic to the שמן המשחה. The oil regenerated itself after it was used, and it was always the same amount that Moshe made initially. It simply never had to be replaced.
The question is why this special property was necessary? Couldn’t the שמן המשחה be reproduced as were many other parts of the Temple vessels and supplies? We know that Hashem does not change nature’s course unless there is a necessity.
Perhaps one can suggest two possible insights into this phenomenon. The שמן המשחה‘s purpose was to activate the holiness of each person and vessel it was used on. Without anointing, these vessels would not “function” as כלי שרת – vessels of service. The reason the oil never was depleted served as an importance lesson about holiness in the Torah perspective. Holiness is based on the traditions from previous generations as it was communicated to them by Hashem. It is not updated or changed by the mores and norms of the time.
A second message is that holiness is eternal. Hashem will always have holiness and righteousness in this world no matter where humanity decides to go. Hashem’s master plan is that there will always be a segment of holy people that pursue and conduct themselves in this role.
We convey values to our children about their Jewishness. We should stress the אלקי אבי – my father’s G-D as part of that message. We didn’t invent our way of life; we inherited it, and we cherish the mission of bearing this torch for all times.