Parshas Tetzave begins with the command to prepare clear olive oil to light the Menorah. The Pasuk says, “l’haalos ner tamid”, to ignite a light to the point that it springs up and burns on its own. This mitzvah isn’t only describing flames in the Mishkan though. We know that a person’s soul is compared to a flame and this mitzvah also details our job to light our personal flame of inspiration and then ignite our childrens’, until their lamps glow independently from ours’, “l’haalos ner tamid” that they should spring up and burn on their own.
We inspire ourselves to keep our own light burning and it’s also our job and privilege as mothers to begin the process of lighting the spiritual lamps of our children too. We say in Shema every day “V’dibarta Bam” and you should speak the words of Torah and then later we continue, “V’limadtem osam es benaichem ledaber bam” and you should teach the words of Torah to your children “ledaber bam” so that they, on their own, continue to speak them. We begin by learning Torah ourselves, and eventually we inspire our children to speak words of Torah on their own.
No one can kindle a fire with an extinguished match. It takes fire to spread fire, it takes one person’s enthusiasm and inspiration to kindle another’s. As mothers, if we want our children to love Torah, to be excited and engaged in it, the best thing we can do is first light our own lamps, developing our own inspiration and connection. Lighting our lamps, and tending to our spiritual flames, is the first step in igniting our children's lights.