The RaDa”L (note 10) elaborates that Hashem, out of His pure mercy, led the Jews through the desert with the Clouds of Honor during the day and the Pillar of Fire at night – even while they transgressed with the sin of the golden calf. The Yedai Moshe explains why Hashem nevertheless wanted the Jewish people to light up the mishkan, the House of His Divine Presence, with the ner tamid: “in order so that they will not be deniers of good. Even if Hashem did not need the light, nevertheless Hashem’s intentions were to teach man to night be ingrates.”
One question that comes to mind is how could the Jews have become ingrates in the Wilderness? They were on such high levels of belief in Hashem, and it was obvious that they owed their lives to Him; He saved them from the clutches of the Egyptians, and gave them food, drink, fresh clothes, and comfort. Then G-D gave them the Torah, the ultimate guidebook to living life to the fullest; they should have been overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude! How could they have lost it? Furthermore, one would think that by giving back to Hashem, it would reduce their feeling of gratitude, like a bartering system. He gives to them, and vice versa. There should not have been any feelings of indebtedness at all if they were just trading with each other. So why would the light of the mishkan enhance their feeling of gratitude towards Hashem?!
The Mahar”I Ben Lev (in the Yafe Toar) asks two other questions on the medrish: (1) Why would this act elevate their states in the eyes of all the other nations? On the contrary, they would think that the Jews are fools for giving light to the One Who Lights up the World. (2) What was the comparison to the parable? In the parable the seeing man didn’t want the blind man to feel indebted, which is not true here.
The Mahar”I Ben Lev answers that Hashem did not want the Jews to be ungrateful, rather they should acknowledge the good done to them, and for that reason Hashem “requested payment for what He did.” For this reason He commanded them to light up the candles, as a symbol of their gratitude, just as He shed light upon them. Through this they came to be viewed in high esteem by the rest of the world, for they saw that the Jews were not ingrates. To explain the parable, the Mahar”I Ben Lev says that the seeing man was paid back by the blind man by the turning on of the light in the house, in order to show that the blind man accepted the nice thing the seeing man did for him. The blind man does not owe anything else to the seeing man, because he already paid him by expressing his gratitude for the kindness the seeing man did for him. (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)
Showing gratitude is of such fundamental importance that this is what elevates the Jews in the eyes of the world and, G-D forbid we would not show proper gratitude, it would create a tremendous chilul Hashem [profaning of G-D’s Holy name] in the world.
I would like to express might deep heartfelt gratitude towards Hashem for giving me the ability and allowing me to spread Torah worldwide. A sincere thank you also to all my students, supporters and followers for helping and encouraging me to continue with this magnificent endeavor of spreading the ingenuity of Torah throughout the world.