Tetzaveh

“Parsha and Purpose” – Tetzaveh 5781
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“There’s No Such Thing As Standing Still”

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Parshat Tetzaveh (Exodus 25:1- 27:19)

“There’s No Such Thing As Standing Still”

We’re in the middle of several Torah readings that discuss the details of things which, at first glance to many people, appear to be disconnected from our contemporary lives.

We may ask, “What is the relevance of the detailed description of the construction of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle?

“Why do we need to know about the intricate design of its vessels, or about how the clothing was fashioned for the Kohen – the priest – and the Kohen Gadol – the High Priest? 

One example is the vessel that is mentioned both in last week’s parsha, and in this week’s parsha – the altar. 

The מִזְבֵּחַ הַנְּחוֹשֶׁת  – the Bronze Altar – measured 13 feet or nearly 4 meters high, and we learn from it a message relevant for everyone, especially in these challenging times.

The Kohen clearly needed to ascend to the top somehow, in order to prepare the offering and the libations on the site.

But how was he to get there?

“וְלֹא תַעֲלֶה בְמַעֲלות עַל מִזְבְּחִי אֲשֶׁר לֹא תִגָּלֶה עֶרְוָתְךָ עָלָיו”

“Do not ascend My altar by steps, that your nakedness may not be exposed upon it.” (Exodus 20:26)

The Torah specifically forbids the Kohen from using steps. Instead, he must ascend using a ramp.

What is the difference between a ramp and steps?

And how does a ramp solve the problem raised in the verse about exposing his nakedness?

Why is one mandated and one prohibited?  

In using steps one has three choices: to go up, to go down or to stay in the same place.

Yet when using a ramp, one has only two options: either go up or go down.

On a ramp, there is no plateau on which to remain comfortably in place.

On the contrary, if you try to stand in place on a ramp, momentum leads you to slide backward.

The Altar, which symbolizes our commitment to sacrifice for our relationship with God, reminds us that in all relationships in our lives, we are either going up or going down.

There is no such thing as plateau-ing in our closest relationships, whether with God, our spouse, our children, or any other relationship, we are either in a state of growth or decline.

If we really wish to treat our most important relationships with the attention they deserve to ensure that they are always in a state of growth and vitality – we must ascend the ramp!

Continuously working on our relationships, investing our most precious resources, time and emotions in them.This is the timeless message that the Torah shares with us through depicting the construction of this one vessel. Messages can be found in the analysis of all the Temple structures

May we find the strength to be engaged in the ongoing process of growth and ascension in our closest relationships, both with God and with others in our family, cmmty and society.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

Shabbat Shalom: Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin            Efrat, Israel — “Make a forehead-plate of pure gold, and engrave on it…’Holy to God’.  Attach a twist of sky-blue wool to it” (Exodus 28:36-37) This week’s portion of Tetzaveh, wherein Moses’ name is not mentioned even once, exclusively …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Parshat Tetzaveh 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Will our Children Carry on Our Spiritual Legacy?”

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Parshat Tetzaveh: Will Our Children Carry On Our Spiritual Legacy? 

During the week in which we read Parshat Tetzaveh, we commemorate the loss of Moshe Rabbeinu, on the 7th of Adar. Some suggest that this is the reason why his name is not mentioned in the entire parasha – a unique phenomenon from the beginning of Sefer Shemot until the end of the Torah. 

But I’d like to ask a more challenging question. 

Why don’t we know where Moshe is buried? After all, we know where our patriarchs and matriarchs are buried. We know where other great personalities are buried. Why is the exact place of Moshe’s burial hidden from us? 

The answer that I’d like to suggest is a difficult one, but one which I think should speak to all of us. We don’t know where Moshe is buried because the purpose of a burial place is for family. Ultimately, visiting the burial place of an ancestor, like saying Kaddish, is a mark of continuity, of personal connection with the previous generations.  

Our rabbis teach us that Moshe’s children did not follow in his footsteps. Bamidbar Rabbah 21:14  We hear very little about them at all; there is no indication that they participated in Moshe’s “career” as Eved HaShem – God’s servant. His sons may not even have been present at Mount Sinai, when the Torah was given to the entire Jewish nation.  The Book of Shoftim tells us that one of Moshe’s descendants – a Levite – even served as a priest to an idol. Moshe’s sons did not continue his legacy. Judges 18:30

What good is it to know where a person is buried if children do not continue their parents’ traditions? We need to ask ourselves this question during the week of the anniversary of Moshe’s death. 

How do we make sure that our children and our families continue our legacy? We have to realize they are not our spiritual genetic clones and that they don’t always look at Judaism the same way that we do. But we do have keep the avenues of communication open with them so that our legacy continues even after we are no longer here. 

After the end of our days in this world, the people who will sit shiva and say Kaddish for us are our children. Making sure we have a relationship with them while we are alive is critical. 

We learn from all the strengths of Moshe Rabbeinu. One of his greatest strengths was his unique relationship with God. But the Torah reminds us to also learn from his weaknesses.  The Torah tells us that Yitro has to bring Moshe’s family back to him, to remind him to engage with his own family. Exodus 18:3 That does not seem to happen; Moshe is more comfortable engaging with God than he is with his own family. It is God himself who buries Moshe – we have no indication that his sons were even with him before, or even after he died. At the end of the day, there is no identifiable burial place because his children do not continue his legacy. 

This week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, and the yahrzeit of Moshe’s death on the 7th of Adar, should remind us to ask ourselves some very important questions: how do we engage with our own families to make sure that we leave a spiritual legacy to our children? How do we communicate with them to ensure that they will continue to be committed to our heritage? What we do today determines whether we truly deserve a resting place that our children will visit.

Shabbat Shalom, and may we truly understand the meaning behind Moshe Rabbeinu’s yahrzeit.

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David Nekrutman

Parshat Tetzaveh: Moses is Missing…Really? David Nekrutman is the Executive Director of  Ohr Torah Stone’ Hertog Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).   The observational humor of Jerry Seinfeld has made audiences laugh for decades. His take and comic delivery on human behavior has even caused an existential crisis for many who buy donut …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “Now you bring near to yourself Aaron your brother and his sons with him…. to minister to Me. You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aaron your brother, for honor and splendor” (Exodus 28:1,2)  The two leaders during this interim …

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Rabbi Baruch Kehat

Parshat Tetzaveh: the Role of the Incense Altar How does the Lower Altar differ from the Higher Altar, and why doesn’t the commandment regarding the Incense Altar appear in its natural place? by Rabbi Baruch Kehat, senior faculty of the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary and the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva “There I will …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And you shall command the children of Israel… And you shall bring forth your brother Aaron and his sons together with him… And you shall speak to all of the wise-hearted.” (Exodus 27:20–28:3) Often what you really have is that which …

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Parshat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10)  Rabbi David Stav  This Shabbat, we will read Parshat Tetzaveh in our synagogues, and also remove another Torah scroll from the ark, from which we will read an excerpt containing the verses, “Zachor (remember) what Amalek did to you…you shall not forget!” [Deut. 25:17-19]. This is why this Shabbat is named “Shabbat …

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