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Something beautiful happens at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion. Aaron is instructed to mount lamps at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, to perpetually shine light into the darkness of night. In essence, he is instructed to emulate God, whose first act of creation in Genesis was to create light.

To add to the beauty of the image, the Torah uses a word for mounting the lamps that shares a root with the word aliyah, to rise, to lift up.

Aaron was told to lift light. To hold it high, to shine a light that could guide people to the Tent of Meeting. I have long suspected that these lamps were not meant to shine into the tent, but rather outwards; God didn’t need light, but we humans certainly need light to show us the way.

This week my friend and colleague Pastor Virginia Herring died. She was one of those few people who could shine that light all by herself, day and night. She was funny and wise, and she loved God and her community.

She was the guiding light at St. Wilfred’s church, and although the church will go on without her, their community will feel the pain of her loss, the sorrow that comes when a bright light is extinguished.

My synagogue, Kol HaNeshama, has been working for months as we prepare to move to St. Wilfred’s campus. My community will not suffer materially – our budding relationship with the church community is strong and will continue as we have planned, thanks in great part to Pastor Ginny’s vision. And yet, as we continue with the work of turning a social hall into a sanctuary, I will miss having her by my side.

As I lit a memorial candle for her along with my Shabbat candles on Friday night, I was struck by a memory of the Children’s Memorial at Yad VaShem, a darkened tunnel seemingly lit by thousands upon thousands of candles. The memorial actually consists of just five candles, but the hall is mirrored and creates the illusion of 1.5 million flames, each representing one child who died in the Holocaust.

I will think of Virginia Herring in the same way, as a single candle whose light shone so brightly and was reflected by so many people that it was multiplied over and over again. When I lit my memorial candle I lifted it up and imagined the light of the tiny flame shining deep and far, piercing the night, traveling to the stars and beyond.

Aaron was commanded to lift light, to enlighten. In our complicated world, where at times it seems that darkness prevails, may we too lift the light of hope, understanding, wisdom, and peace. May we hold it high, and remember what the Talmud teaches: A candle is not diminished when it lights another.