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Overview of the Weekly Reading: Tetzaveh
To be read on 13 Adar Alef 5763 (Feb.15)
Torah: Ex. 27:20-30:10;
Ezekiel 43:10-27 (details about the altars and kohanim)
Tetzaveh 8th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 20th overall,
contains 4 positive mitzvot and 3 prohibitive mitzvot. It is
written on 179 lines in a parchment Torah scroll, 33rd out of 54
in overall length.
The Jews are commanded to bring oil for illuminating
the constantly burning lamp of the tabernacle. Next are listed the instructions
for making the priestly vestments of the priests and high priest. The priests,
Aharon and his sons, were consecrated and installed into their holy positions
through a series of sacrifices, sprinklings, ritual immersions, and garbing themselves
in their priestly clothing. This procedure was repeated seven times along with
sanctifying the altar. G-d commanded regarding the continual burnt offering and
gave instructions for the building and offerings of the incense altar.
FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES
"You shall command the Children of Israel that
they bring to you pure olive oil
it necessary for the oil to be brought to Moses if Aaron was the one who would
be kindling the menora? Oil alludes to the inner goodness hidden within every
Jew, even the most simple. To arouse this inner quality, the Jew must connect
himself to "Moses" -- to the leader of the Jewish people in every generation
-- who, in turn, elevates it to the higher level of "pounded, for the lighting...a
light to burn always."
(Sefer HaMaamarim Kuntreisim)
for the lighting." (27:20)
It is precisely the "pounding"
of the harshness of the exile that will bring us to the "light" -- the
light of Moshiach and the Messianic Era, as our Sages commented, "It is only
when the olive is crushed that the oil can emerge." At Mount Sinai, it was
primarily the revealed part of Torah that was revealed by G-d. Our present exile,
however, prepares us for the revelation of the inner dimension of Torah, symbolized
by oil, that will be taught by Moshiach in the Era of Redemption.
A MYSTICAL CHASSIDIC
FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALA
with permission and adapted from the three-volume English edition of Shney
Luchot HaBrit -- the Sh'lah,
as translated, condensed, and
annotated by Eliyahu
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (1565-1630), known as the 'Sh'lah'
- an acronym of the title, was born in Prague. A scholar of outstanding reputation,
he served as chief Rabbi of Cracow, and more famously, of Frankfort (1610-1620).
After his first wife passed away, he remarried and moved to Israel in 1621, where
he became the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. He later moved to Tiberias,
where he is buried, near the tomb of the Rambam.
the Torah writes: "As for you (Moses), bring close Aaron your brother etc."
(28,1) Here the Torah expresses a mystical dimension of the verse in Leviticus
16, 17: "No man shall be inside the tent." This is a reference to original
Adam. Aaron, as High Priest, symbolized the rehabilitation of man who had become
distant from G-d as a result of Adam's sin.
The original "jewelry"
had been taken from Man due to the powerful impact of Adam's sin. At that time
Man's original vestments were exchanged from "kutanot ohr" (spelled
with an aleph), garments made of light, for "kutanot ohr"
(spelled with an ayin), garments made of hide (Genesis 3,21). The Torah, in our
portion, orders that Kutanot, tunics, be made for Aaron's sons (28,40)
who had to be dressed in sacred vestments. They put on holy anointing oil, on
their bodies before they dressed in the sacred vestments.
this procedure, the priests ceased being "Zarim" strangers or
"outsiders," before putting on garments which could not be worn by non-priests.
When Adam became a Zar, outside, this was due to the pollutant with which the
serpent had infected him. It was this pollutant from which he had to be purified.
Aaron was the human being through whom this rehabilitation of Man was
achieved. He had to be separate to sanctify his body. He thereafter dressed in
the sacred vestments which conferred upon him "honor and glory", the
very kind of visible distinction that Adam enjoyed while dressed in garments made
of light. The pollutant present in Man because of the serpent's infection was
converted into something positive by means of the breastplate Aaron wore on his
heart. The ineffable name of G-d was engraved on the stones of the breastplate.
The names of the 12 tribes as well as the names of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob were engraved between the 12 gemstones set in it. The latter represented
the Merkava (holy chariot), whereas the former represented the twelve possible
ways of arranging the letters of the ineffable Name.
While Aaron and his
sons were thus sanctified, the people were sanctified by restrictions in their
diet as outlined in Leviticus chapter 11. This was parallel to G-d telling Adam
in the Garden of Eden that Man was allowed to eat from all the tress in that garden
except from the tree of knowledge.
Concepts such as tameh, pigul and
notar [various types of disqualifications of sacrificial matter] all derive
from the tree of knowledge from which Adam ate.
(adapted from Torat
Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Zefat on the Torah, as translated
and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)
essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
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continues the instructions about the Mishkan, the traveling sanctuary that
the Jewish people used while they were in the desert (and during the first 400
years in the land). Great scholars of the Torah understood that the depiction
of the Mishkan and its instruments is also a description of the soul and
its strengths. Just as the purpose of the Mishkan was as a dwelling place
for G-d on this plane, so also the body is a dwelling place for a portion of G-d
here below, that which we call the soul. By understanding the Mishkan,
we acquire insight how most effectively to fulfill our spiritual purpose.
the Mishkan were two altars: a larger one of copper in the outer section,
meant for the animal offerings, and a smaller one of gold in the innermost partition,
for the spice offerings. Only a specific spice offering was permitted on the inner
altar, and, furthermore, the priest at the time of the incense offering was required
to remain inside and totally alone. The altar is associated with the service of
the heart from which our love of G-d is based. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains
how the two different altars and their different purposes reflect the different
levels of love within man. More specifically, there are some things that require
of a person a more superficial interaction, less intense emotional involvement,
and some that need the full flaming enthusiasm of the total strength of the soul.
matter how much we focus on "spiritual power", some things do not change.
The body is a gift from G-d. A person has to eat and drink, sleep and rest, care
for their body and take the time for a stroll in the fresh air. This is by no
means "being seduced by the desires of the world". Rather, a person
has to see these actions as part of his spiritual service, as the verse says,
"In all of our ways we should know Him" (Proverbs 3:6). This is holy
work. And therefore you might think that we have to invest our all in it.
Torah addresses this concern, and says the organs and the fats, representing our
physical needs, are only offered on the external altar. This teaches us that our
physical needs and our worldly concerns should be dealt with only in the external
level of the heart, without going nuts over it.
The inner heart, true enthusiasm
and total investment, has to be saved for more important things, the study of
Torah, prayer and the pure service of the commandments. The Torah warns us that
the inner altar should not be used for the "daily" offerings. The inner
altar is used only for the spice offering, something that is consumed completely
and is elevated to holiness, with little or no waste left behind. And the Torah
adds even more. At the time that the spice offering was being made, the one who
offered it needed to be alone in the tent, he and G-d alone. This is the most
important point. What is appropriate for the inner heart has to be done for the
Almighty only, without any other motivations, without any fanfare or publicity.
It is only in this way that the offering will be fully accepted and the Divine
Presence will be able to dwell in us.
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our insights for this parsha from last year