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    Ensuring our survival – B’ha’alot’cha

    The haftarah (from Zech. 2:14-4:7) has the distinction of being read twice a year, this week and on Shabbat Chanukah.

    In both cases it describes a golden lamp which links with the opening verses of the sidra, dealing with kindling the lights.

    In the Zechariah version we see a vision of a lamp which is kept going by an unquenchable supply of oil. According to Rashi, each of the seven lights had seven pipes, making a total of 49.

    The number seven is not accidental, since seven in Biblical thinking denotes completeness or perfection: seven days, seven weeks, seven years… Though it was olive oil that provided the fuel, there was a unique feature in that the olive trees stood at each side of the candlestick so that the supply of fuel was always assured.

    When Zechariah was asked what this vision indicated, he explained, as Rashi tells us, that it was a parable that promised that as the olive trees kept the lamp alight, so it would be the spirit of God, not earthly factors like might and power, that would ensure the survival of the nation of Israel and the restoration of its Temple.

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