Midreshet Amit

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The Tent and The Torah Inside

By: Erin Helfer

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Toldot, The blessings that Noach gave in Parshat Noach are fully manifested. In these brachot we can also find the themes of Chanukkah and Rosh Chodesh Kislev. In Parshat Noach, Noach says,֤ ֙ ֔ ֖ ׇ֑ ֥ ֖ ֥ “May God extend Yafeth, but he will dwell in the tents of Shem; may Canaan be a slave to them” (9:27). As the Jews are descendants of Shem, various Parshiot including this week’s Parsha demonstrate how Hashem dwells in the tents of the Jewish people. I would like to trace the values of dwelling in the tent throughout Sefer Breisheet.
 
Avraham exemplifies Jewish values in his home by inviting guests and therefore fosters Hashem’s presence in his tent. In Parshat Vayera, Avraham welcomes three men into his tent. Avraham treats his guests with endless respect. By welcoming guests, Avraham welcomes Hashem into his tent as well.
 
Yitzchak is also a source for welcoming Hashem into his home. In this week’s Parsha, Yitzchak decides to bring a korban next to his tent. The Torah states,
֧ ֣ ֗ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֖ ׇ֑ ֥ ֖ “He built an altar there, invoked Hashem by Name, and there he pitched his tent” (26:25). Yitzchak brought an offering to Hashem after He appeared to him the night before in a dream. Hashem dwells in the tents of Shem as Yitzchak gives thanks to Hashem for appearing to him by building an altar.
 
Finally, Yaakov also exemplifies Noach’s blessing for Shem. Parshat Toldot states,֙ ֣ ֔ ֖ “Yaakov was a wholesome man, abiding in tents” (25:27). Commentaries explain that Yaakov  learned Torah in his tent, meaning he welcomed Torah values into his home.
 
How is Noach’s blessing relevant for Rosh Chodesh Kislev and Chanukkah? Just as our forefathers penetrated Hashem’s presence in their homes, the lighting of the Menorah brings Hashem’s light into our homes. The light of the Chanukkah candles represents how the Torah brings clarity and Jewish values into our homes and tents. Through the candles, we are also reminded of Hashem’s greatness and the miracles He conducts. Let’s go into this Shabbos welcoming Kislev where Hashem dwells in our tents.