Parashat Tetzaveh

Dedicated In Honor of My Wife Sara by Ikey Erani


Parashat Tetzaveh Remember Forever Last week’s parasha discussed the Mishkan, and this week, Parashat Tetzaveh goes into depth of the mitzvot pertaining to the Mishkan. The parasha begins with the mitzvah to take pure olive oil for use in the menorah in the Mishkan and Bet Hamikdash. We learn in the Gemara that olives are bad for memory, they make people forget. But olive oil is a segulah, (and it’s scientifically proven) to improve memory. Next week, in Parashat Ki Tissa, Moshe will break the tablets when he sees the Jewish people dancing in front of the egel—golden calf. Hashem is hinting to us in this parasha that, unfortunately, we would suffer a loss where the tablets would be broken, and we’d slowly forget some parts of the Torah. But just as we should light the menorah with pure olive oil, we should use olive oil as a segulah and a symbol of memory to remember the Torah forever. The Kohen Gadol The parasha also discusses the kohanim, specifically the kohen gadol and his special garments. Hashem said to Moshe, “Now you bring near to yourself your brother and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel — Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, Elazar and Itamar, the sons of Aharon — to minister to Me. You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon your brother, for honor and glory. 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 Torah then 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 honor and glory.” 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. Honor and Glory Though garments are important, we also learn that materialistic things mean nothing, and that true value comes from within. There is a story about a man who was invited to a very fancy party. This man was not incredibly sophisticated and was not used to wearing elegant clothing. He came to the party wearing a nice but very informal outfit. When he arrived at the party, he was stopped by the guards at the entrance who told him that he could not enter the building because of his “inappropriate clothing.” The man wasn’t upset, and he went back to his house to put on the best suit he owned, and he returned to the party, where he was then let in without any problems. During the party, when they all sat for a seated dinner, the man suddenly stood up, lifted his plate with the most exquisite catered food, and poured it all over himself, effectively ruining his nice suit. His friends at the table asked him why he did such a thing and he told them, “Since I was not invited but my suit was, I thought it was logical to give it the food.” As we discussed, Parashat Tetzaveh details the garments of the kohen gadol, giving much relevance to their beauty. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says that in order to understand why the Torah gives so much importance to Aharon’s garments, we need to pay attention to the piece at the of the whole description, “You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon your brother, for honor and glory.” The Torah is teaching us that there are two different ways to relate to the external image of a human being. One is giving importance to the “glory” or beauty in a materialistic way, and the other one is understanding that “glory” should be at the service of “kavodhonor.” So if one gives importance to kavod, for example, and he buys a nice suit for Shabbat or for celebrating a friend’s wedding, in those cases, he’s using beauty as a means to give kavod to other people or to G-d, and it serves a higher purpose. But if one gives importance to glory or beauty just for the sake of materialism, like buying a new suit to try to fit in a social class, the suit doesn’t serve any value, and actually helps a person to disrespect his own dignity. This is a beautiful message that teaches us how to balance beauty and dignity, and how to establish the priorities in our lives. 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. 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 always give kavod to the beautiful things we buy! Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey Discussion Points:

  • Can you think of examples of putting honor above glory?

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.

  • The Torah is teaching us that there are two different ways to relate to the external image of a human being. One is giving importance to the “glory” or beauty in a materialistic way, and the other one is understanding that “glory” should be at the service of “kavodhonor.”

  • 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.


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