Torah Weekly - Parshat Tetzaveh

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TORAH WEEKLY

Parshat Tetzaveh

For the week ending 15 Adar 5761 / March 9 & 10, 2001

Contents:
  • Overview
  • Insights:
  • Billing
  • Haftara
  • Eat, Drink, And Be Holy!
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    Overview

    Contents

    Hashem tells Moshe to command the Jewish People to supply pure olive oil for the menorah in the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting). He also tells Moshe to organize the making of the bigdei kehuna (priestly garments): A breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, a sash, a forehead-plate, and linen trousers. Upon their completion, Moshe is to perform a ceremony for seven days to consecrate Aharon and his sons. This includes offering sacrifices, dressing Aharon and his sons in their respective garments, and anointing Aharon with oil. Hashem commands that every morning and afternoon a sheep be offered on the altar in the Mishkan. This offering should be accompanied by a meal-offering and libations of wine and oil. Hashem commands that an altar for incense be built from acacia wood and covered with gold. Aharon and his descendants should burn incense on this altar every day. Hashem tells Moshe to command the Jewish People to supply pure olive oil for the menorah in the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting). He also tells Moshe to organize the making of the bigdei kehuna (priestly garments): A breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, a sash, a forehead-plate, and linen trousers. Upon their completion, Moshe is to perform a ceremony for seven days to consecrate Aharon and his sons. This includes offering sacrifices, dressing Aharon and his sons in their respective garments, and anointing Aharon with oil. Hashem commands that every morning and afternoon a sheep be offered on the altar in the Mishkan. This offering should be accompanied by a meal-offering and libations of wine and oil. Hashem commands that an altar for incense be built from acacia wood and covered with gold. Aharon and his descendants should burn incense on this altar every day.




    Insights

    Contents

    BILLING

    "And now, you shall command the Children of Israel..." (27:20)

    It always amazes me how many people's names roll down at the end of a movie. There's the "third assistant grip..." "Poodle manicure services by..." "Beers chilled by...." A vast and determined army has come together to create two and a half hours of armchair illusion. And that's only the end titles. The opening titles are usually a showbiz lawyer's nightmare -- (or dream really when he has to bill his client). Who goes first? The Director? Or the Star? Is it "Seldon Shmendrick presents Rock Jaw" or should it be "Starring Rock Jaw in a Seldon Shmendrick production." What about the pecking order of the lesser actors? And then of course there are the TV trailers and the print ads. Have you ever seen so many names in so many typefaces in so many different point sizes grace a piece of printed material as the average Hollywood blockbuster poster?

    If Hollywood is about anything, it's about prestige. Or as it's called in Hebrew kavod. Judaism sees honor-seeking as one of the things that "removes" a person from this world. It puts him into a non-real world where he becomes a legend in his own lunchtime. Kavod is something that a Jew runs a million miles from.

    There's a fascinating section of the Talmud which describes a conversation between the Almighty and Yerovam ben Navat. Yerovam was a Jewish King, a great and brilliant scholar, who was ultimately responsible for turning the Jewish People to idol worship. It was he who caused the division of the twelve tribes into the Kingdoms of Yisrael (the ten tribes) and Yehuda (the two tribes). Those ten lost tribes, the vast majority of the Jewish People, are now vanished, invisible and lost as Jews. That was Yerovam.

    What caused someone so great to fall so far? There's a fascinating character insight that the Talmud gives us in Sanhedrin (102a): "Rebbe Abba said -- the Holy One, Blessed is He, grabbed Yerovam by his garment and said to him 'Return to your former self and I and you and the son of Yishai (King David) will walk in Gan Eden. He (Yerovam) said: "Who's going to be at the head?" "The son of Yishai will be at the head." "If so, I don't want."

    Why did Yerovam ask the Almighty who would be first? G-d already said that "I and you and the son of Yishai will walk in Gan Eden." G-d mentioned Yerovam first, indicating that Yerovam would be before King David. If so, why then did Yerovam ask who would be first?

    Yerovam wanted a billboard two stories high with his name in lights. He wanted G-d to spell it out. This was the granddaddy of disputes over billing. It wasn't enough that he would go first. He wanted his billing locked into the contract.

    If kavod -- honor-seeking -- is something so despicable and lowly, its reverse is the greatest treasure available to man. Humility is the greatest prize that one can aspire to. The praise of the greatest Jew who ever lived was that he was the humblest of people. That man was Moshe, our teacher.

    From his birth until Sefer Devarim (Deuteronomy), Moshe's name appears in every parsha, except one -- this week's parsha. The Vilna Gaon explains that Moshe died on the seventh of Adar. As this date usually falls in the week of Parshat Tetzaveh, so just as Moshe was removed from the world during this week, so his name was "removed" from the parsha of this week.

    The words of the tzaddik can have a power beyond their immediate context. When G-d wanted to destroy the Jewish People after their infidelity at the golden calf, Moshe pleaded with Hashem to "Erase me from Your Book that you have written." Moshe asked that he, rather than the Jewish People, be eradicated. Even though Moshe spoke out of total self-sacrifice, nevertheless, his words made an impression, and it is for this reason that his name was "erased" from this week's parsha.

    The question remains, why this week's parsha? Moshe's name could have been omitted from any of the other parshiot in the Torah. The answer is the Hashem "delayed" omitting Moshe from the Torah "as long as He could." For next week's parsha, Parshat Ki Tisa, deals with the golden calf and it is there that Moshe makes the statement "Erase me from your Book." So this parsha was G-d's "last chance" to leave out Moshe's "billing" from the Torah.

      Sources:
    1. Ba'al HaTurim
    2. Nachal Kadmonim
    3. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz



    Haftara

    Ezekiel 43:10-27

    Contents

    EAT, DRINK, AND BE HOLY!

    "Tell the House of Israel of the Beit Hamikdash and they will be ashamed of their sins." (43:10)

    The table at which a Jew eats is compared to the Holy Altar in the Temple. This is never more true than on Shabbat, when our eating takes on a greater spiritual dimension.

    Part of the significance of the Purim meal is that it atones for another meal some 2,353 years ago.

    Achashverosh, the King of Persia, invited the Jews to an extravagant banquet to celebrate his coronation. In spite of Mordechai's protests, the Jews attended this banquet. At the banquet, Achashverosh brought out and used the vessels from the Holy Temple which was destroyed by Nevuchadnetzar, a previous king of Babylon.

    Achashverosh knew of the prophecy that the Holy Temple would be rebuilt, but he miscalculated the date of its rebuilding. When that date passed, he mistakenly thought the prophecy was not true. However, after his death, the Second Beit Hamikdash was rebuilt by his son Darius, whose mother was Queen Esther.

    Yechezkel's vision of the Third Beit Hamikdash, the ultimate incarnation of the Mishkan, is the subject of this week's haftara.

    Hashem says to Yechezkel: "Tell the House of Israel of the Beit Hamikdash." Tell them that you have already seen the Third Beit Hamikdash ready and finished down to its finest detail. Tell them that only their sins are preventing the revelation of Hashem's House. Tell Israel what you have seen "and they will be ashamed of their sins" and return to Me.

    Malbim


    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Michael Treblow

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