Tetzaveh

The people of Israel are commanded to bring pure oil “to raise a flame eternally”. Rashi explains that eternity actually means repeatedly: they would light a candle daily. Repetition is a way to keep hold of time rather than space. In space, one can have something, place it in a drawer, go, return – the thing remains! We call this ‘ownership’ and value it intensely, although all Things decay. When we make an act in time, we never return to it; time moves only forwards. Repetition gives us a means of owning events too. We choose to light candles over and over. Although the candles burn away, we truly own both the rhythm of lighting, and the choice to do so.

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[Inspired by: Exodus 27 and Rashi on 27:21, as well as another fascinating discussion of ‘eternal’ in Menachot 99b; Nietzsche’s teachings on eternal recurrence; Musical Variations on Jewish Thought by Olivier Revault d’Allonnes, and his allusions to Beethoven’s opus 131; and The Penitent Magdalene by Georges de la Tour. And others…]

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