Following mitzvot and learning Torah add breadth to a person’s life. You get insight into human nature, how to live a peaceful life, and to come close to G-d. These are certainly great things to teach children. When they are ingrained into a person’s life he will follow the “Pleasant ways.” It is important to instill this into children instead of some the other messages which are prevalent in America.
Our Perasha starts off by telling us:
And now you command The children of Israel to bring to you pressed olive oil perfect for light, to bring the constant light.
This Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah is placed here between the mitzvah of how to build the Mishcan and what the Kohen should wear when he works in the Mishcan. This is placed here to tell us that in reality the main function of the Kohen is to teach the “Pleasant ways of G-d” to the people.
We know this from another Pasuk in Mishle: Ki Ner Mitzvah Vetorah Or – Because a mitvah is a candle and the Torah is light. The Torah is like light and oil. It is like light because it enlightens people. That is clear.
Why is it like olive oil? Why not like other light sources? The Midrashim (and Philo) say that Other oils do not give off a clear light. Either they flicker or are to bright. If you watch the olive oil burn in an oil candle you will see that it is more plesant than other oils. I have seen this on Chanukah. The light is not harsh.
It is not easy to make oil which is pure enough to give off such light as we were commanded to do for the Menorah. It is also not easy to be pleasent and to follow the Torah.
The oil comes from pressed olives. A massive stone wheel is turned over a larger stone base. Although the resulting oil is perfect being crushed under a stone is not an easy experience. Our rabbis have said: Whoever wants to busy himself in Torah should make himself Katit – Crushed in repentance and good deeds.
Torah does not come easy to a person. I sat in Yeshivah for 10 years. at the end of some days you feel as if your brains has have no more strength. In the words of one my rabbi, Rav Yonatan Berger, You do not really learn Torah if you do not roll up your sleeves!
The greatest Torah lesson which we can teach our children is that its ways are pleasant and that it will take them a lot of effort to learn how to be pleasant. You have to be sure that your children are in the proper environment and see to it that they understand that it is hard work to become a good Jew.