Dedicated in Honor of Rabbi Amram Sananas for All the Torah He Spreads Throughout Our Community and for a Leilui Nishmat for the Rabbi’s Father Rav Chaim Ben Rivka A’H on His Yahrzeit This Shabbat by Ronnie Safdieh and Family Parashat Tetzaveh 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 ultimately 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, and this Shabbat is Shushan 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. Hidden Miracles Rabbi Frand discusses one of the many miracles from the story of Purim. When Achashverosh threw a grand party, he commanded his wife, Queen Vashti, to appear before those assembled to show off her beauty. Vashti refused to come. According to the Talmud, her refusal to come was not based on a sense of modesty, rather the Angel Gavriel came and put a tail on her. The Gemara is teaching a message with this story. We do not need to assume that Vashti literally grew a tail. The Hafetz Hayim states the word zanav—tail alludes to the fact that Gavriel made it so it was the tail end of the dynasty of Nevuchadnetzar. The Gemara relates the story of how Nevuchadnetzar became king with no royal blood. Years earlier, Chizkiyahu, King of Judea, became very sick and he was miraculously saved. Hashem healed him and wanted to publicize it, so He made a second miracle. The day Chizkiyahu was cured lasted 18 hours, and the whole world realized that it was a miraculous day. The King of Babylonia at that time, Biladan, said, “Hashem changed nature for this King, I must send him a letter of congratulations and admiration.” He ordered his chief scribe, Nevuchadnetzar, to draft the letter for him. However, that day, for whatever reason, Nevuchadnetzar was not there. So, the other scribes went ahead and drafted a letter without the input of the chief scribe. The letter said, “Peace unto you King Chizkiyahu; peace unto Jerusalem; peace unto the Mighty G-d.” Nevuchadnetzar returned from wherever he was and asked to review a copy of the letter. When he saw the salutation, he objected that the honor of the Mighty G-d should have been placed first not third in the letter. However, the other scribes told him that it had already been sent. Nevuchadnetzar ran after the messengers to try to stop them so as not to send the letter with dishonoring Hashem. The Talmud says that he ran 4 steps in the direction of the courier, but the angel Gavriel came and stopped him in his tracks. As a reward for his steps, he and his next three generations became royalty. Since Gavriel interrupted his fourth step, his great-great granddaughter Vashti’s rein was at its “tail” end. Had Vashti remained on the throne, Esther would never have been in a position to save the Jewish people and they would have been wiped out in the time of Haman. The lesson of this story is that this is how Hashem runs the world. The incident with Gavriel happened in the time of Chizkiyahu King of Judea – many years before the era of Haman and Achashverosh. Because of what took place then, Klal Yisrael was saved many years later in the time of Purim. Rav Shlomo Lorenz once met Harry S. Truman, President of the United States. President Truman told Rabbi Lorenz, “You should know that when I agreed to recognize the State of Israel, it went against the advice of my advisors and it was against every political instinct that I have. But I will tell you why I did it…” The conventional wisdom is that Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel in 1948 because he had a Jewish partner in the clothing business many decades earlier who came to him in the White House and asked him for this favor. This is conventional wisdom. But President Truman himself told Rabbi Lorenz “I was a little boy growing up in the United States and dreaming of becoming president. I was a good Christian boy and I learned my Bible. My hero in the Bible was Cyrus.” Cyrus was Koresh, a descendant of none other than Queen Esther. He continued, “Cyrus is the one who let the Jewish people go back to their homeland and build their Temple. I told myself, if I ever become President of the United States, I want to imitate my hero and let the Jewish people go back to their country and rebuild their Temple. And that,” he concluded, “is why I recognized the State of Israel.” This is the same story, the Hand of G-d at work. Just like with Vashti – we do not know what possessed her to disobey her husband and not come as he ordered. Somehow the Almighty “sent an Angel” and made it happen, so that Klal Yisrael should be saved. “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. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT"L, was once asked what we learn from the custom of wearing costumes on Purim. The Rebbe answered, “On Purim you see many people dressed in different costumes; one is a clown, one is an animal, and one is wearing something you can’t even understand. Do you get bothered by them? No because you know they are wearing a costume. In life we meet many people. One is impatient, one is angry, one is apathetic. But that’s not who they really are. Those are just ‘costumes.’ Deep in their hearts they’re all warm Jews, full of purity and beauty. We just need to interact with them with kindness and remove the ‘costume’ to reveal the pure neshamah—soul inside each one. This is true Ahavat Yisrael.” 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 Purim 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?
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.
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