Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tetzaveh – Command – 5774

Tetzaveh – Command 5774

             Torah   Exodus 27:20-30:10
         Haftarah   Ezekiel 43:10-27
Brit Chadasha   Mark 4:35-5:43
                          Luke 1:1-3:22

3539 years since his birth, 3419 years since his death:  Mazel Tov, Moshe Rabbeinu?

            Nu, so how do you recognize the Birthday of a Tzadik?  According to tradition, a Tzadik dies on his birthday, so do you congratulate him, or mourn him (his Yahrzeit)?  Society says to rejoice on the day of one’s birth, and mourn on one’s death, but Qoheleth 7:1 says that the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.

            It has been passed down, that the seventh of Adar was the day Moshe died.  Keeping that in mind, the lack of celebration has been listed as one reason that Moshe’s name is not found in this passage – the only such Parsha since his birth to omit it!
            Moshe has plenty of involvement in this week’s portion, from telling/commanding B’nai Yisrael to bring oil for the menorah, to setting up Brother Aharon and Nephews Nadav, Avihu, Eleazer, and Ithamar as Priests, from the supervision of the manufacture of the priestly garments and the Golden Incense Altar to Instruction about offerings/meals for the priests.

           Such is the condensed version.  Now for a little more meat to sink your teeth into.  The word Tetzaveh תְּצַוֶּה comes from the root צָוָה, meaning to command. Mitzvah מִצְוָה comes from the same root (a later usage/development). Although it usually means: to command, lay charge, order, appoint, and install, some references have given the meaning of to connect.

            Moshe was connected to Mizraim for forty years.  The next forty years, he connected with G-d in the desert. This was followed by connecting to B’nai Yisrael [That might explain male-pattern baldness in our family!].

            But seriously, I am more convinced as time rolls on, the truth of the statement that Moshe was the meekest man in all the earth (Numbers 12:3).  I think of how little it takes to set me off – the slightest suggestion that I did something wrong, or said something wrong, or took too long (either them or me), or just for general purposes.  I can easily jump to conclusions, thinking I know all the facts.  An example would be that HaShem should have over-ridden Moshe when he pleaded for Yisrael when He – G-d -- wanted to start fresh with Moshe as the new ‘Chosen’ people.  After all, Kol Yisrael drank, and danced, and worshipped the golden calf, didn’t they?  (NOT really, even though they got the bum rap).

            Please pardon my jumping ahead.  This does tie in, as I will explain shortly.  The picture we get, is that the vast majority of Yisrael was directly involved in the whole ‘calf’ incident, but Moshe’s plea was for G-d to either 1) forgive them, or 2) blot him out of the book.  HaShem told Moshe that those who sinned must pay – and about three thousand men died – not Kol Yisrael, not even a majority (and not necessarily all B’nai Yisrael, for there was a mixed multitude with them).  Some fathers/sages say that Moshe’s name was omitted from the Parsha Tetzaveh as the rest of HaShem’s fulfillment of their agreement.

            Although his name wasleft out of the passage, his essence was clearly throughout it.  And what an essence – the Torah was so important, it has been called the Law of Moses.  Even though Torah was that important to Moshe Rabbeinu, his true love was B’nai Yisrael.  Like Rav Shaul in the Brit Chadasha (Romans 9:3), he was willing to be accursed for Yisrael.  HaShem knows the worth of every single soul.  He cannot trade one soul for the nation, or even the world, because to do so would nullify the payment He already received for all of the world’s souls (by His stripes we are healed – Isaiah 53:5b).

            According to sages, Torah has existed from the foundation of the world.  Since it has been around, and since no part of it shall pass away until all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18), details must be quite important.  Take for example, the command to not wear a garment of mixed linen and wool (Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 22:11).  In this parsha, however, the command is given to do just the opposite – the Kohen’s belt/ephod is to be constructed from both wool and linen (Exodus 28:5-8).  Why the difference? We are to be aware of the sources of things, to honor and respect all HaShem’s creation. HE has declared things sacred for His glory.  I do not fully understand, but His way is right.
           We are in an interlude between G-d’s active dealings with Yisrael – the Second Temple has been destroyed, and we are awaiting the building of the Third Temple.  During this waiting period, we can take joy in the fact that G-d has given us details (in the Haftarah portion for this week) of the Third Temple, and the reminder of His mercy,  grace, and provision.

Shabbat Shalom!

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