This week's parsha describes how Aaron, the high priest, would light the Menorah every day in the Tabernacle. The verse emphasizes that "Aaron did as was commanded" (Numbers 8:3). The commentators point out that this was a special praise of Aaron, in that he didn't divert from the prescribed method of lighting the Menorah.
Yet this explanation seems difficult to understand. Why would we think that a great man like Aaron would be tempted to light the Menorah in an inappropriate way?!
Nachmanides explains that the praise of Aaron is that even though the job could have been delegated to someone else, Aaron always did it himself - throughout the entire 40 years in the desert.
The Sfas Emes says that beyond this, Aaron lit the menorah, day in and day out, with the same degree of fresh enthusiasm. The same task always appeared in his eyes as new. Now that's truly deserving of praise!
Think about your own life. We all have tasks that we perform on a daily basis: meeting with clients, dinner with the family, even saying the Shema. The question is: Do we fall into a habit of rote, where the joy and meaning has somehow dissipated into a whirl of mindless motion?
Here's the solution to break this monotony:
Figure out what you are naturally enthusiastic about. List the moments in your life of greatest enthusiasm. Then, for one week, keep a list of every enthusiastic moment you have.
These exercises will help you become more consciously aware of your enthusiasm. You can then nurture it and make it an integral part of who you are.
By calmly practicing, you will eventually be able to consciously choose a state of enthusiasm, and draw upon its positive energy. Just as Aaron did in lighting up ... the golden Menorah!