Parshat Tetzaveh


First Portion

• G-d places responsibility on man by giving him physical resources in a giant playground called Earth, where he has to elevate himself and the settings around him to spiritual heights. Last week we discussed the various materials needed for the construction of the Mishkan (tabernacle). In this week’s Parsha, for the most part, we will discuss the High Priest’s proper attire; these kohanim are the conduit between us and G-d and therefore much emphasis is spent on the topic.

• The Parsha begins with a description of what kind of oil is needed for the Menorah. Only oil from the first pressing of an olive was acceptable for the Menorah. These first drops were perfectly clear and without sediment. The oil in its perfect state represents purity of the heart.

• There is more attention and material written in the Torah on the crown that the high priest wore rather than the king of the Jewish nation.

• Every Kohen who served in the temple wore four garments, termed bigdai hedyot (garment of an ordinary Kohen). They were:

  • ketonet – the shirt
  • michnasayim – the breeches
  • avnait – the belt
  • migba’at- the turban

The four above mentioned were made of white linen.

The Kohen Gadol wore these garments to accept the migba’at. While the migba’at was pointed on top, the turban of the Kohen Gadol was round and called mitsnefet.
Additionally, the Kohen Gadol wore four golden garments. They were:

  • me’il – the mantle
  • aifod – the apron
  • choshen – the breastplate
  • tzits – the head plate

Second Portion

• The most intriguing part of the Kohen’s clothing is the choshen, also known as the choshen mishpat (breastplate of the final judgment). It was made rectangular in form and folded in the middle to form two perfect squares. The Kohen Gadol wore these squares over his heart, one layer above the other. Between the two layers, the urim vetumim were inserted. The choshen was woven in a pattern, which contained four rows of gold settings. Into each of these settings, three precious gems were inserted.

• It is written the Kohen Gadol should wear it on his heart. This is referring to Aharon. G-d is rewarding Aharon for not being jealous and having a pure heart for his younger brother, Moshe, being appointed over him as leader.

• The soul of the choshen was the urim ve’tumim that lay hidden between its folds. The urim vetumim were scrolls of parchment on which Moshe had written the divine 72 letters name. These urim vetumim caused the letters to light up. The letters supplied answers. Only matters concerning the king, the bet din or the entire Klal Yisrael could be settled by the urim vetumim.

Third Portion

• Bells were hanging all around the robe’s hem. The question is asked why the Kohen needed bells? Here, G-d is teaching us manners and proper etiquette. The Kohen was to enter the Holies of Holies where G-d’s ambiance was present. One cannot barge in without knocking or without ringing the bell. This is the source of ringing doorbells.

Fourth Portion

• Seven days of inauguration; it was a rejoicing period for the kohanim who were picked to do the holy service.

• An offering was made by Aharon and his sons for the atonement of taking part in the sin of the golden calf. There is a custom till today that the Leviyim in the Synagogue help the kohanim prepare before they bless the people. The inception of this ritual was the result of the commandment by G-d who had instructed Moshe to do so to Aharon, the Kohen. This is because after coming down from the mountain and seeing the golden calf fiasco, Moshe suspected in his heart that Aharon was responsible for this tragedy. By instructing Moshe to assist Aharon, G-d is showing that he had the purist intention. Nevertheless, as the person in charge until Moshe came back, Aharon had to pay a price for having the sin occur under his leadership.

Fifth Portion

Ayil meluim – meluim signifies the inauguration. Another definition, in which Rashi explains, is perfection, an offering of perfection. This is similar to the word, Shalem, which is also a name for an offering. Rashi says the root of meluim is maleh. The concept of the Mikdash is “coming to that perfect state” which is olam habah – the next world, The Mishkan is a compartment of olam Habah.

Sixth Portion

G-d reaffirms His authority with the word ‘Vayedu’, they will know through the sacrifices and through the temple where G-d sort of rests. The ability to identify with the Mikdash as G-d’s house, something tangible will strengthen the belief among the Israelites.

Seventh Portion

Mizbeach haketoret – incense; this is a very important offering. It says G-d’s ambiance did not rest until the ketoret was burned.

Credit to: Rabbi Avi Matmon