The menorah's seven flames symbolize the seven generations leading up to Moshiach and the seven primary energies of creation. Moshiach will bring a new era of unity and perfection to the world, connecting all past and present generations. * On Parshas B'Haalos'cha. by AI Smith
The connection between the parsha of Bha'aloscha and the arrival of Moshiach has been extensively examined and expounded upon in rabbinic literature. One of the key sources for this concept is found in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 97a), which states that in the generation of Moshiach, "young people will embarrass the faces of the elderly and the elderly will rise before the young." This statement is based on the seven flames of the menorah, which represent the seven generations before the final Messianic redemption, each one being progressively darker.
Rashi (Sanhedrin 97a sv. b'zichron shel menora) explains that the menorah's seven flames correspond to seven different time periods, where each generation grows spiritually darker, losing the light of Torah and wisdom. However, at the time of the Messianic redemption, all seven flames will be rekindled, uniting all of the previous generations, together with Moshiach, in his role as the unifying force that connects all people and all times.
This idea is further developed by Maharal of Prague in his commentary on Bamidbar (Gevurot Hashem 61), where he explains that the seven candles of the menorah represent the seven primary kochot, energies, of creation. Each of these kochot has its unique expression in every generation, but only in the days of Moshiach will all seven come together, the unity required for the complete perfection of creation.
The concept of the menorah's seven flames is discussed in other sources as well. In the Midrash Rabbah (13:15), it is said, "These [the seven flames of the menorah] are the seven shepherds [of Israel] who guided the world." The Arizal (Sha'ar HaGilgulim chapter 33) identifies these seven shepherds as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David.
Interestingly, the use of the word "hena" in Bamidbar 8:4, as mentioned in the original response, is also discussed by the commentators. Rashi (Bamidbar 8:4 sv. hena) explains, citing the Talmud (Shabbat 21b), that the word hena is used in a way that implies pointing or indication, conveying the idea that the menorah is pointing toward something beyond itself. Thus, the menorah symbolizes the spiritual light that Moshiach will bring into the world, illuminating the darkness and pointing the way to ultimate redemption.
In summary, the menorah is a powerful symbol of the past, present, and future of the Jewish people, with its seven flames representing the seven generations leading up to Moshiach, the seven primary energies of creation, and the seven shepherds of Israel who guided the world. As we read Parshat Bha'aloscha and are inspired by the light of the menorah, may we look forward to the ultimate radiance of Moshiach, who will shine forth a new era of unity and harmony in the world.