The Hebrew word “Aish” or “Fire” is a significant word throughout the Torah. In this week’s portion, Tzav, we read (Leviticus 6:2) that “the burnt offering itself shall remain where it is burned upon the altar all night until morning, while the fire on the altar is kept on it.” The reason for our Ner Tamid, the light that is on above our ark, comes from this verse, that a perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to go out. Our Ner Tamid represents this fire, the eternal light, in our worship spaces.
As destructive as fire can actually be, in Judaism, fire is hope and holiness. Fire is a reminder of what is present when all is lost. The Yizkor Candle holds the fire of memory. The Shabbat Candles holds the fire of holiness. The Menorah and the Hanukkiah hold the fire of hope. Our Ner Tamid holds the fire of inspiration within our people and within each of us.
The flames of Judaism can be felt everywhere within our sacred community, and we give you opportunities to be a Ner Tamid to those that need light through our Social Action programming. Through volunteering at HaMotzi Dinners, you give the light of nourishment and friendship. Through bringing canned goods to our Tzedek Center, you are fueling the digestive fire for those in need. Through tutoring at Lowell Elementary school, you are bringing a spark for the love of learning. Through being a volunteer at KI Wellness Day, you are fueling the fire for more self-care.
Fire transforms, and each of us holds the flame to light another light. May each of us be a Ner Tamid, perpetuating hope and holiness within our own lives and within our community.
Cantor Amy E. Levy