Weekly Reading Insights: Tetzaveh 5764


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Tetzaveh

To be read on 10 Adar 5765 (Feb.19)

Torah: Exodus 27:20-30:10; Haftorah: Ezekiel 43:10-27 (details about the altars and kohanim)

Tetzaveh is the 8th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 20th overall, and 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 holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:20-65/Tetzaveh)

This [separation between the light of the Divine, Zeir Anpin and Malchut [physical reality] is what caused the destruction of the Temple in the days of Jeremiah.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:20-65/Tetzaveh)

What have gleaned from this passage is that the union of the choshen and the ephod, i.e. that of Zeir Anpin and Nukva, occurs at both an immature and mature stage. The former is the union between the emotions and thought, and the latter the union between emotions and speech.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:20-65/Tetzaveh)

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.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"You shall make the breastplate of judgment ("choshen mishpat")." (28:25)
The Hebrew letters of the word "choshen" (chet-shin-nun) are the reverse of the word "nachesh," from the root meaning sorcery or divination. Sorcery is the harnessing and utilization of spiritually impure forces to discern the future. By contrast, the breastplate of judgment, with its Urim and Tumim, clarified the unknown through the power of holiness.
(HaKetav VeHakabala)

"The breastplate is not be loosened from the Ephod." (28:28)
The breastplate was worn on the chest of the High Priest over his heart. The numerical equivalent of "Ephod" is 85, the same as the word "peh," meaning mouth. In commanding that the breastplate, symbolic of the heart, not be loosened from the ephod, symbolizing the mouth, the Torah is giving us a hint that a person's heart and mouth should always be in sync with each other.
(Degel Machane Efraim)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:20-65/Tetzaveh)

"Beaten (katit) for the light, to cause a light to burn continuously." (27:20)
The numerical equivalent of the word katit is 830 - the exact number of years the two Holy Temples stood in Jerusalem. (The First Temple existed for 410 years; the Second, 420.) The First and Second Holy Temples illuminated the world with their light for a specific and limited period of time. The Third Holy Temple, however, which will be rebuilt when Moshiach comes, will be in fulfillment of the latter half of the verse, "to cause a light to burn continuously." Its light will never be extinguished.
(Toldot Yitzchak)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:20-65/Tetzaveh)

Altars of the Self

Parashat Tetzaveh continues the instructions about the Tabernacle, 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 Tabernacle and its instruments is also a description of the soul and its strengths. Just as the purpose of the Tabernacle 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 Tabernacle, we acquire insight how most effectively to fulfill our spiritual purpose.

In the Tabernacle 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 Rebbe of Lubavitch 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.

No 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.

The 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.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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