Outside the Curtain
“You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly [ner tamid]. Aaron and his sons shall set them up in the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain which is over the Pact, [to burn] from evening to morning before the LORD. It shall be a due from the Israelites for all time, throughout the ages.”
— Exodus/Shemot 27:20-21, JPS/Plaut*
[English bracketed words in the original]
Every Jew must light the ner tamid in his own heart, not only in Tabernacle or Tent, that is, in synagogue or school. He must light it “outside the curtain” (Exod. 27:21): in street and market place, in profane activities, in all matters relating him to his fellow human beings.
An allegory: ner can be seen to be the acrostic of nefesh ruach, a soul with a spirit (This is the lamp we must light regularly).
Plaut cites Itture Torah [Torah Gems],* a mid-20th-Century midrash compilation, for these comments. “Pardes Yosef,” aka Rabbi Joseph Patznovsky, an early-20th-Century Polish teacher, is credited with the first comment; I don’t know if the second is also to be attributed to him.
* Please see Source Materials for full citations and additional information.
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