Parashat Tetzaveh/Purim

Dedicated in Honor of Abraham and Nina Saideh by Jack & Shella

Parashat Tetzaveh/Purim

After discussing the Mishkan in last week’s Perashah, this week’s Perashah, Tetzaveh, describes in detail the priestly garments to be worn by the Kohanim, as well as the specific garments to be worn by the Kohen Gadol. So far, this is the only Perashah since the birth of Moshe that does not mention him by name even once. This is because in next week’s Perashah, Ki Tisa, when Hashem tells Moshe that he is going to destroy B'nei Yisrael for worshiping the golden calf, Moshe says, "Erase me from your book (if you will destroy Am Yisrael!)" For that reason Hashem took Moshe's name out of this week’s Perashah, to show us that our words carry meaning. It is also significant that the reading of this particular Perashah, which omits Moshe’s name, coincides with Moshe’s birthday and Yahrzeit on the 7th of Adar. As the Parasha begins (28:1), Hashem says to Moshe,"Now bring near to yourself your brother and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel – Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Elazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron – to minister to Me. You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aaron your brother, for glory and splendor. And you shall speak to all the wise-hearted people whom I have invested with a spirit of wisdom, and they shall make the vestments of Aaron, to sanctify him to minister to Me". Hashem chose only Aaron and his four sons and all their descendants, right up to this very day, to be Kohanim and serve in the Bet Hamikdash. The Torah goes to great lengths to describe every article of the Kohen Gadol's clothing. We must learn from the words,“whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom”, that we can never act arrogantly about the special talents that Hashem gave us. We have no right to act haughtily regarding our G-d given talents, whether we are very smart, a great athlete or can play an instrument or carry a tune with perfection because as Rabbi Diamond always taught us, those are all gifts from Hashem, just like our kidneys, "Do we take pride and boast about the fact that we have good kidneys?" So the same way, we can't take pride in any of the other gifts that Hashem has given us! We must know that the Torah doesn't waste a single letter, let alone paragraph upon paragraph of information, as in the description of the Kohen's clothing. The Pasuk says that the vestments are to be made "for glory and splendor". The Ramban teaches that these garments were intended to honor the Kohanim, for they were similar to the garb of royalty! Sforno comments the purpose behind this is that the Kohen Gadol will be revered as the teacher of the nation by the tribes whose names are inscribed on his breastplate. Clothing has a major impact on us. We expect to see an important person like the President or a Monarch dressed in proper or royal clothing, and if we don't, this can lower the level of that leader in our eyes. In today's society, we have a phrase, 'Dress for Success' . It is true that our clothing can bolster our self-esteem, but there's a certain amount of Ga’ava (haughtiness) that may go along with this attitude. The Torah wants to show us that the clothes of the Kohanim were not intended to make the Kohen Gadol haughty or conceited, but rather are intended to show the Jewish people that we must be in awe of the one who does the service of Hashem, so he must look like royalty, as he is serving the greatest King of all, Hashem! I heard Rabbi Wachsman speak a few times last year, and in his speech about haughtiness, he presented this parable: "Imagine a poor man who was invited to a wedding but does not even have one suit of his own to wear. So he asks a wealthy friend of his to lend him a suit for the evening. Since he borrowed this very expensive Canali suit from a wealthy man, would it be proper for him to then go around bragging and showing off this beautiful suit as if it were his own? Of course not, because it’s a borrowed suit and he doesn't own even one suit of his own." It’s the same with us: we don't have anything that is ours alone, and we have to thank Hashem every minute for all the gifts that He continues to bestow upon us, his humble servants. This week we will also be celebrating the great holiday of Purim, when we read the Megillat Esther, which also discusses clothing, (4:1) "Mordechai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes."Continuing (4:4), "Esther's maids told her about it and she was greatly distressed so she sent garments to clothe Mordechai so that he might take off his sackcloth, but he would not accept." Then again, (6:7) Haman said to the King, "For the man whom the King especially wants to honor, have them bring a royal robe that the King has worn and a horse that the King has ridden, one with a royal crown on his head". Today, we also dress up on Purim, but for very different reasons than those discussed in the Perashah. On Purim we were saved from Haman, who devised a ruthless plan, along with King Ahashverosh, to kill all the Jews of Persia. Rabbi Twersky explains in his book, quoting Rav Levi Yitzhak of Berditschev on Purim, that supernatural miracles, great as they may be, are of only a short duration. The salvation of B'nei Yisrael by the Ten Plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea were open miracles only witnessed by that special generation that left Mitzrayim. We do not expect to see those types of open miracles today; however, there are many other hidden miracles that happen to all of us on a daily basis. Megilat Esther tells the story of Purim as a series of miracles that Hashem orchestrated by pulling all the strings hiddenly and behind the scenes. Every event that occurs in the story of Purim could be seen as a perfectly natural occurrence. "A king (Ahashverosh) gets drunk and in his drunken rage executes his queen (Vashti). He then chooses a Jewish woman (Esther) through a contest to be his new queen, concealing her true origin. Her uncle (Mordechai), who just happens to be in the royal court, discovers a threat to assassinate the king and his new queen and reports this to the king, ultimately saving his life. The anti-Semitic prime minister (Haman) extracts a decree from the king to kill all the Jews in his kingdom. The king is then reminded that a Jew is the one who saved his life. The queen turns the king’s wrath against the prime minister, who is executed. Then the queen reveals her true Jewish origin and her uncle is appointed as the new Prime Minister and the Jews are saved! Not until the entire sequence of these events are strung together can one see the guiding hand of Hashem saving the Jewish nation. So today, according to the Hatam Sofer, we celebrate being saved by dressing up and disguising ourselves in costumes, because as stated above, the story of Purim demonstrates how Hashem is protecting us and performing hidden miracles for us on a daily basis through "Hashgaha Peratit", the divine supervision of individuals. As a reminder that Hashem saved us in a hidden way, we too dress up in masks and costumes and hide ourselves. This is also the reason that Hashem's name is not mentioned in the entire Megilah, except for the first word on each page of the Masoretic text which begins with the word "Melech", (king) alluding to Hashem who is the King of all Kings. Miracles such as these are still with us today, without the laws of nature being suspended, but through the hand of G-d. The realization that everything in this world is orchestrated by Hashem is our Emunah and a fundamental principle of Judaism. Understanding this belief enables us to entrust our lives to the guidance of Hashem, and should be a stimulation for us to live our lives according to G-d's commandments! May we all use our clothing to elevate our appearance for the sake of Hashem and not merely to impress our friends. May we also know that it is important to always look our best when serving Hashem, just as the Kohanim did in the time of the Bet Hamikdash. Let us be aware of our G-d given talents, as they are all gifts from Hashem and we should not act haughtily because we possess them. May we also realize that Hashem is always with us, even in our darkest days when we might feel that He's not there. Hashem may be hidden, but He is always with us, pulling the strings behind the scenes for us and performing miracles for us every second of every day! Amen! Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach! Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of Rabbi Amram Sananes Leiluiy Nishmat.... Eliyahu Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Garaz Sarah Bat Chanah Malka Bat Garaz Shulamit Bat Helaina Yaakov Ben Rachel Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher Rav Haim Ben Rivka Meir Ben Latifa Yitzchak Ben Adele Esther Bat Sarah Chanah Bat Esther Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana Moshe Ben Garaz Rafael ben Miriam Moshe Ben Mazal