Thursday, February 17, 2005

II-8 Tetzaveh All Dressed Up

17 Febr II-8 Tetzaveh All Dressed Up

Torah: Ex 27:20-30:10
Haftorah: Ez 43:10-27


1. Ex 27:20-28:12
2. Ex 28:13-30
3. Ex 28:31-43
4. Ex 29:1-19
5. Ex 29:19-37
6. Ex 29:38-46
7. Ex 30: 1-10


In Mishpatim, the focus of the parashiot change, moving from a historical view centered on distant figures to including the reader into the narrative. Mishpatim is the applicaiton of social law as it relates to the individual, Terumah builds the sanctuary and Tetzaveh presents the priesthood, garments and holy implements. Law gives us the ethical and moral structure for living as the construction of mishkan relates to the dedication of our talents and hearts, and Tetzaveh is a further extension of worship—how we dress ourselves in our worship through deeds and sacrifice. Korban-korbanot literally means to draw close to God. The Mishkan provides a sanctified place for encounter with God. Like going to the theater or a pleasant evening at an upscale restaurant, we need to consider how we dress ourselves before God.


"You shall bring forward your brother Aaron, with his sons, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests...Make sacral garments for your brother Aaron, for dignity and adornment."
Exodus 28: 1-2 JPS

"I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their God. And they shall know that I the Lord am their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I the Lord their God."
Exodus 29:45-46 JPS

The Clothes of the High Priest:

The previous parasha was concerned with the Mishkan with moses taking a freewill offering for its construction. In this parsha, Moses' name is not mentioned. Instead,

"ve'atah ve'tzaveh" -- "and you shall" appears three times avoiding his name. In Mishpatim, there is a shift of focus, from the Israelites standing at the bottom of Sinai, framed in history to the reader. The text becomes timeless. Here the shift moves from Moses, the leader of the Exodus, to the reader. We are drawn into the dressmaking activities for Aaron the High Priest. Ostensibly, Moses is the one addressed, but we hear the words:

Ex 27:20-21 "You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly.

Ex 28:1-2 And you shall bring forward your brother Aaron, with his sons ...

Ex 28:2-3 make sacral vestments for your brother Aaron, for dignity and adornment. Next you shall instruct all who are skillful, whom I have endowed with the gift of skill, to make Aaron's vestments, for consecrating him to serve Me as a priest.

What's so special about the garments of the High Priest? The lamps, we can assume through countless metaphors of purity, spirit and the soul longing to break free of an imperfect body to be re-united with the Creator, but clothing intrigues us with the annual fashion shows in Paris and Milan.

The High Priest wore an ephod, a type of ornamented apron. On the breastplate were twelve stones, one each to represent the tribes of Israel. The tribe of Levi was apparently not included because they were not given land, but became asssociated with the Temple worship and the Cities of Refuge, so that the tribe of Joseph was split by Ephraim and Manasseh. There was an additional stone on either shoulder strap, each inscribed with six names of the tribes. Symbolically, the high Priest not only carried the burden of the people on his shoulders, but on his heart. The shoulders symbolize the burdens of leadership and the heart that of compassion and concern for the people. Moreover, as the heart is considered the most vulnerable organ of the body, the breastplate symbolizes the necessary protection that must exist in order for good judgement. We can be easily drawn into a bad judgement through our emotions, whether anger or joy. The emotions can easily move into actions that we later regret, sometimes being drawn into a scam or reacting to a situation in a burst of anger. Although the High Priest stands before the altar on behalf of all the people, he must also have clear judgement. there needs to be a balance between mercy and justice, reflecting the divine names of Adonai and Elokim.

Why the fancy dress? "For dignity and adornment" reads the JPS translation, but another translation reads, "for splendor and beauty" or "glory (kavod) and splendor (tiferet)" The two, kavod and tiferet, belong to the Ten Sefirot—the divine emanations of God. Rasmbam comments tht the priest should emanate these two qualities and in wearing the ephod, the High Priest is able to draw down the glory of God's presence to the people and inspire us to a higher level.

But what do you first notice about the Kohen Gadol when he enters a room? Is it the fantastic breastplate or the golden band on his forehead? Do you even see it? Even before you see the Kohen Gadol, you hear something making a noise. The hem of the garment is embroidered with pomegranates, but between the pomegranates there are bells. Since the preposition used could mean between or in, the rabbis discuss this for metaphroical interpretations. The pomegranate is a symbol of life and of the Jewish people. just as the Children of Israel are divided into tribes, so the pomegrante is divided into sections. At times when the seed are bad, the pomegranate can seem almost hollow, symbolizing religion or religious life that has no fullness or ripe fruit.

The bells, though, are intriguing. The Kohen Gadol could not take a step without being heard. One interpretation is that the bells symbolize the fringe of society, the hoi-poloi, the rabble outside. After getting throuugh the Reed Sea and the defeat of the Egyptians what was the first reaction? Complaints that the waters at Marah were bitter. When there is manna, what happens? Complaints about not having meat. When Moshe goes back the mountain for the next instalment of Torah Training, what happens? Golden Calf. regardless of the season or how good something might be, there are always complaints, Murmurings in the camp, the dissidents yearning for their cucumber patches in the lush Skagit Valley. That's the way it is, and those are the folks that are jangling on Aaron's nerves each time he makes a step. Always there are those on the bottom, grasping at eternity's hem and begging to be pulled up. We never want to be forgotten or neglected and that's why we make so much noise about our lowly position in life.

But the shift? What do you think? Were these garments only meant to be worn by the High Priest, the Kohen Gadol, or do you think that there's something about these clothes that you and I should make and wear


"And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them."
II-7 Terumah Ex 25:8

For the commandment is a lamp; The teaching is a light
Prv 6:23

commandment= mitzvot (good deeds) and teaching = torah

"and the Lord said to Moses, "Go to the people and warn them to stay pure today and tomorrow. Let them wash their clothes. Let them be ready for the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down..." II-5 Yisro, Ex 19:10-11

Moses went and repeated to the people all the commandments of the Lord and all the rules; and all the people answered with lone voice, saying, "All the things that the Lord has commanded, we will do!" II- 6 Mishpatim, Ex 24: 3

Jordan D Cohan, Kolel, Tetzaveh 5764
"but rather in the sense that these are the places where we as a people gather to “draw closer” to God; to worship and do the work (in Hebrew, the word Avodah means both “work” and “worship”) of connecting with our God. Our sacred spaces are not where God dwells, but rather they remind us that God dwells among us."


Chabad, Tetzaveh: Oil, Wick, Vessel and Flame

Based on the writings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch (1773-1827), and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Rabbi Avi Weinstein, Tetzaveh: Aromatherapy: Jewish Style

Rabbi Shimon Felix, Tetzaveh: Multplicity of Meanings

Yanki Tauber, Tetzaveh: Noise
based on th writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Rabbi Dovid Green, Dvar Torah, Tetzaveh 5757
regarding symbolism of incense and Menorah

Rabbi Jordan D Cohen, Tetzaveh: Clothes Make the Person
from Kolel

Aliza Mazor, Tetzaveh: The Holy Art of Sacrifice


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