Parashat Tetzaveh / Purim

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Parashat Tetzaveh / Purim

Kohanim Forever

Last week’s parasha discussed the Mishkan, and this week, Parashat Tetzaveh discusses the kohanim, specifically the kohen gadol and his special garments. At the beginning of the parasha, Hashem said to Moshe, “Now you bring near to yourself your brother and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel — Aharon, Nadab and Abihu, Elazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aharon — to minister to Me. You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon 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 Aharon, to sanctify him to minister to Me (28:1).” Hashem selected Aharon, his four sons, and their descendants to be the kohanim to serve in the Bet Hamikdash and to serve as kohanim up until today.

The Kohen Gadol’s Clothing

The Torah goes to great lengths to meticulously describe every detail of every article of the kohen gadol’s clothing. We must know that the Torah doesn’t waste a single letter, let alone paragraphs of information. If the Torah spends so much time discussing the kohen gadol’s clothing, there must be many important lessons to learn.

The passuk says that the vestments were to be made “for glory and splendor.” There’s a contemporary phrase “dress for success.” Clothing has a major impact on us. We expect to see an important person like the president or a king dressed in very proper or royal clothing, and if we don’t, this can lower our respect for that leader. In fact, the Ramban teaches that the kohanim’s garments were intended to honor the kohanim, for they were similar to royal garb. Sforno comments the purpose behind this was so that the tribes of Israel would revere the kohen gadol as the teacher of the nation. It was also to show the Jewish people that one who serves Hashem must look like royalty, since he is serving the greatest King of all.

The Only Parasha

Parashat Tetzaveh is the only parasha where Moshe Rabbenu’s name is not mentioned. This is because in next week’s parasha, Ki Tissa, Hashem wanted to destroy B’nei Yisrael for worshiping the golden calf. Moshe said to Hashem, “Erase me from the Torah if you will destroy Am Yisrael!” Because of Moshe’s words, Hashem took his name out of this week’s parasha. The Torah wants to teach us that our words really do mean something, so we must always be very careful of any negative words that we say.

The Tur explains further that during an earlier time in history, Moshe was destined to be the kohen gadol as well as the leader of the Jewish people. However, when Moshe angered Hashem, he lost his honor to be kohen gadol (4:14). Since this parasha deals with the vestments worn by the kohen gadol, Hashem chose not to mention Moshe’s name, so it would not to be a constant reminder of his lost opportunity to become kohen gadol, an honor that was subsequently given to Aharon.

Even when Hashem punishes someone, we should recognize the mercy within the very act. When Moshe declared his wish to be erased from the Torah, Hashem decided to remove Moshe’s name from only one parasha. Hashem specifically chose the parasha of Tetzaveh, in which the mention of Moshe’s name would have been a cause of pain to him because the subject of the kohen gadol was discussed. Once his name was to be taken out, it might as well be in a place that he would not want to be mentioned anyway. We further see that, despite its inevitability, the omission of Moshe’s name was limited in scope. Moshe’s name was mentioned within the number of verses in the parasha, albeit in a “hidden” manner.

Purim and Divine Providence

Now we're coming upon the days of the great and festive holiday of Purim. We are celebrating the hidden miracle when the Jewish people were spared from the evil Haman who wanted to kill all the Jews. We were saved by Hashem through the tremendous sacrifice that Queen Esther and Mordechai made on our behalf. We read in the Megillah every year how through Hashgacha Peratit—Divine providence Hashem saved the Jewish people.

On Purim we have a custom of dressing up in different costumes because we were saved from Haman in a hidden way. Rabbi Twersky explains 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 witnessed by that generation only. We do not expect to see those types of open miracles today. However, there are many hidden miracles that happen each day. Megillat Esther tells the story of Purim as a series of miracles that Hashem orchestrated by pulling the strings behind the scenes. Only when the entire sequence of these events are strung together, can one see the guiding Hand of Hashem saving the Jewish nation.

This is also the reason why Hashem's name is not mentioned in the entire Megillah but is written in a discreet manner. Each time the text says HaMelech—The King, we know this alludes to The King of Kings, Hashem.

Rabbi David Ashear told a story about how such simple ‘coincidental’ events truly showed the Hand of Hashem. Rav Chaim Zaid from Israel married off his daughter, and a distant cousin of his named Asher came to the wedding. Asher handed him an envelope, as did most of the other guests. He opened it up later and saw that it was four hundred shekel, which was a nice amount of money for a wedding present. Two weeks later, Rabbi Zaid received an invitation from Asher who was marrying off his daughter as well. Rabbi Zaid wasn’t going to just give back the same four hundred shekel, he wanted to give him more as a nice gesture. So on the night of the wedding, he put five hundred shekel in an envelope with a nice note wishing the couple mazal tov. He had the envelope with him in his pocket, and as he was walking into the hall, he saw a large box that looked like a safe with a hole on top for people to deposit their envelopes. He didn’t want to forget, so he put it in right then and there. His cousin was Yemenite, and as he looked around, he noticed not one other guest was Temani. It was then that he realized he was at the wrong wedding. What would he do now about the money? He asked where the father of the chatan was. He was going to explain the mix up and ask him to give him his envelope back.

At that time the father, Yosef, was on the dance floor, and Rabbi Zaid tapped him on the shoulder. Yosef exclaimed “Rabbi Zaid! Wow, what an honor! You came to our wedding!” and started dancing exuberantly with him. Then he called over the chatan, and they danced together. Yosef kept telling Rabbi Zaid, “What an honor that you came.” Rabbi Zaid said, “It’s my pleasure, but I have to tell you something. I put an envelope with money in the box at the door.” Yosef then cut him off and said “Wow, I can’t believe it, you brought a gift also!” At that point Rabbi Zaid realized it wouldn’t be nice for him to ask for the money back. He said to himself this is kapparah. This couple was meant to receive the money and he happily accepted it as the will of Hashem. He left the wedding and then went to the right hall. He told his cousin he didn’t bring an envelope, he’ll drop it off tomorrow, and so he did. He gave him five hundred shekel as well.

The next day, Yosef called Rabbi Zaid to thank him again for coming. Then he said, “I want you to know, because of you, I just made peace with someone I wasn’t talking to for five years.” He explained, five years before, he helped an acquaintance of his who was struggling financially. When that acquaintance made a wedding for his son, he didn’t invite him. Yosef was so insulted. Where was his hakarat hatov? he thought. The day after that wedding Yosef saw him in the street and purposely walked to the other side to avoid him. They hadn’t spoken since. “Now”, Yosef said, “I was thinking. I didn’t invite you to my wedding, but you came anyway to say mazal tov and you even brought us a gift, and you made us feel so special. If I felt I should have been at that wedding to wish him mazal tov, I should've just gone without an invitation. So I got the strength to call him and when I told him it was me, he said he was angry at me. I said, ‘What? I’m angry at you!’ He said he invited me to the wedding, and I didn’t come. Turned out the invitation got lost. Baruch Hashem, now we’re friends again. Thank you, Rabbi Zaid.”

Yosef then added, “Please Rabbi give me a beracha that my oldest son should get married.” His oldest son was four years older than the son that had just gotten married and was having a very hard time with shidduchim. The Rabbi gave him a beracha and went on his way. Two days later Rabbi Zaid was walking outside somewhere. A man called his name, and he said, “I want to thank you Rabbi.” Turns out, it was that acquaintance who Yosef just made up with. “My friend Yosef told me about what you did coming to his wedding and giving him a gift, and that’s what prompted him to call me.” The man then asked Rabbi Zaid, “Please give me a beracha that my daughter, who’s getting older, should get married.” Rabbi Zaid immediately said, “You have a daughter, and your friend Yosef has a son. I wonder…” He became the shadchan, set them up, and Baruch Hashem they got married. From Rabbi Zaid accidentally going to that first wedding and leaving the money, he made shalom between friends and got their children married. Not to mention, he also ended up getting his money back, plus much more when they gave him gifts for setting up their children.

Hidden miracles, such as the story of Purim, are still with us today. Each day, Hashem provides guidance without suspending the laws of nature. “There is no such thing as coincidence.” The realization that everything in this world is orchestrated by Hashem is a fundamental principle of Judaism. Understanding this belief enables us to entrust our lives to the care of Hashem and should be a motivation for us to live our lives according to G-d's commandments.

May we know that it’s important to always look our best when serving Hashem, just as the kohanim did in the time of the Bet Hamikdash. May we all realize the sensitivity Hashem has for us, even when He punishes us. May we be able to look for and see the hidden miracles that Hashem gives us daily and appreciate all He does!

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach!

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Discussion Points:

  • Can you think of a story of Hashgacha Peratit in your life where Hashem showed His Hand without changing nature?

Summary:

  • Hashem selected Aharon, his four sons, and their descendants to be the kohanim to serve in the Bet Hamikdash and to serve as kohanim up until today.

  • The Torah goes to great lengths to meticulously describe every detail of every article of the kohen gadol’s clothing. The elaborate garments that the kohanim wore teach us that one who serves Hashem must look like royalty, since he is serving the greatest King of all.

  • Parashat Tetzaveh is the only parasha where Moshe Rabbenu’s name is not mentioned. This is because in next week’s parasha, Ki Tissa, Hashem wanted to destroy B’nei Yisrael for worshiping the golden calf. Moshe said to Hashem, “Erase me from the Torah if you will destroy Am Yisrael!” Because of Moshe’s words, Hashem took his name out of this week’s parasha.

  • Even when Hashem punishes someone, we should recognize the mercy within the very act. Hashem specifically chose this parasha in which the mention of Moshe’s name would have been a cause of pain to him because the subject of the kohen gadol was discussed, and Moshe had lost that title when he angered Hashem.

  • Megillat Esther tells the story of Purim as a series of miracles that Hashem orchestrated by pulling the strings behind the scenes. Only when the entire sequence of these events are strung together, can one see the guiding Hand of Hashem saving the Jewish nation.

Le’ilui Nishmat....

Eliyahu Ben Rachel

Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Avraham Ben Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah

Esther Bat Sarah

Avraham Ben Mazal

Shulamit Bat Helaina

Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rahamim Ben Mazal

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther

Rafael Ben Miriam

Ovadia Ben Esther

Rav Haim Ben Rivka

Moshe Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Yael

Yitzchak Ben Adele

Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa

Chanah Bat Esther

Yaakov Ben Rachel

Malka Bat Garaz

Moshe Ben Garaz

Avraham Ben Kami

Yaakov Ben Leah

Mordechai Ben Rachel

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

Saadia Ben Miriam

Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon

Margalit Bat Mazal

Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky

Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama

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