Moshe Rabbeinu had difficulty in imagining how to construct the menorah, and he was told to throw the gold into a fire and it will be made by itself. Why did Hashem demand that Moshe make the menorah if it was something that he was incapable of doing? Why didn’t Hashem just make the menorah on His own, rather than first demanding Moshe’s futile exertion?
We know that one of the keilim in the Mishkan that represents Torah is the Menorah (the Aron being the other). Based on this, the Chasam Sofer answers our question with a well-known concept in Torah learning. To be successful in Torah learning, one has to understand that his success is a gift from Hashem. Yagata u’matzata: One must be diligent in his studies, and then Hashem will ensure that he finds the true understanding. Yet, that understanding is actually a gift of Hashem as we say “yagata umatzata” – it is a found item, not an item which is a product of our work. This goes a step further. Often a person can learn a piece of gemora, a pasuk in chumash, or a mishnah, and would like to suggest an explanation. The classical approach is that it is not enough to say a nice piece of Torah, but we must find a support for this idea in an existing source. Why is that necessary? Part of the answer is, because we are not trying to create a new Torah, rather we are just trying to clarify that which already exists. Our beliefs in the Oral Torah include the concept that there will always be a place in pre-existing sources to base a new explanation on.
Some people approach a piece of Torah with preconceived notions of what the psak or reasoning should be. These notions often come from secular sources, or the person’s understanding of the world in which he lives. The Chasam Sofer tells us that this is not the proper approach. All of the beautification of Torah, which is presented by new insights and deeper understanding, must come from the Torah itself.
There is an expression which is used in the beis medrash to describe a majestic piece of Torah: “kaftor vapherach”. Technically meaning “its buttons and flowers”. We are told that this terminology comes from a description of the intricate design on the menorah of buttons and flowers. And what we are saying is, just like those buttons and flowers enhance the beauty of the menorah, so too do our divrei torah (from our perspective) enhance the beauty of the Torah. However, the Chasam Sofer tells us, just like in the menorah these embellishments could not be fashioned elsewhere and attached to the menorah; so too our ideas in elucidating the words of the Torah must be an outgrowth of the Torah itself. This is the deeper meaning of the pasuk “kaftoreh vepheracheah meemenu yihiyu.”