Rebecca Masinter

Tetzave - Crushed Olives Yield Pure Oil

Parshas Tetzave begins with the mitzva to crush olives to prepare clear olive oil to use in the mishkan. As I’m sure you all know, Bnai Yisrael are compared to olive oil in several ways. One is that just as olives need to be pressed and crushed before they release their oil, the Jewish nation also reveals its beauty and greatness through “yisurim”, or pressure. History bears this out, when times of tragedy and oppression have led directly to periods of great spiritual greatness. After the Churban came the mishna and gemara, the period of the Crusades brought us Rashi and Tosfos, and so on. We know this to be true in our own lives as well. We all can look back on periods of great difficulty with gratitude as we know that we have become stronger, bigger, better people by growing through hardships. This is one of the messages of our current month of Adar. Unlike Pesach when the redemption happened completely and supernaturally, in Adar it was more complicated. Even after salvation, Esther remained alone in the king’s palace and the Jews remained in galus. Sometimes we have to live with and work through difficulties to reach geulah. I believe this concept is important for mothers to remember. Often our “mama bear” instinct is so strong that we want to shield our children from pain or stress. Yet, our mesorah, as well as current research on resilience, stress the importance of allowing children to persevere through difficulties and bear discomfort to come out stronger. By allowing them to work through and tolerate discomfort, we are giving them the greatest gift. We are helping our children recognize that they have tremendous strength and resources, that they have Hashem’s help and love, as well as our own, and that we believe in their ability to rise above their circumstances. We can build resilience in our children, but not by shielding them from discomfort. We can model this lesson for our children as we face tough days with a resilient attitude. We can demonstrate how pressure and discomfort lead to growth and greatness, just as pressed olives yield pure oil that can illuminate the Menorah.