December 3, 2023
Parashat Tetzaveh

When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Tetzaveh (תְּצַוֶּה‎) is the 20th weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings.

According to Wikipedia, Tetzaveh (תְּצַוֶּה‎), contains 5,430 Hebrew letters, 1,412 words, 101 verses and makes up 179 lines of a Torah scroll. Parashat Tetzaveh‎ discusses G-D’s instructions to bring olive oil for the lamp (מְנוֹרָה‎, Menorah), make sacred garments for the priests, conduct an ordination ceremony and make an incense altar.

Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Tetzaveh:

The description of the holy garments worn by the Kohain Gadol contains many specific details. Each item had a specific function as the Kohain Gadol performed the sacrifices which would be prescribed in the later portions of Vayikra and Tzav. Among these items, the Me’il or robe is described as being adorned with 72 bells and 72 pomegranates.

Why was this ornate garment necessary? The Chazal in Mishneh Berachot relates that the bells represented wealth and prosperity while the pomegranates represent good deeds. Pomegranates are one of the fruits we eat on Rosh Hashana because they are said to contain 613 seeds representing the number of Mitzvot in the Torah. The message is clear. As the Kohain Gadol entered the Mishkan to approach the altar to offer sacrifices, he could be heard clearly by Klal Yisroel from the chiming of the bells. The people would then look at the Kohain Gadol and see the ornate pomegranates and realize that their prosperity would only be useful if it was used for performing mitzvot in helping others. We must connect our desire to perform good deeds with our hard work and then we achieve prosperity not only for its own sake but for the good of others. If we can connect the dots, then we are granted the gifts of prosperity and a life of mitzvot because we share our gifts with the entire world.

The special Torah reading for Maftir this Shabbat is Parshat Zachor which reminds us of the vicious attack by Amalek upon leaving Egypt and his subsequent defeat by Moshe, Joshua, and Hur with the help of Hashem. Like Amalek, there are those in the world, in our country, and even in our community who seek to do us harm. With Hashem’s help and our constant vigilance, they too will be overcome and their names blotted out just as was the fate of Amalek.

Questions to ponder:

  1. What are the other articles which the Kohain Gadol wore?
  2. What is their significance in relation to the sacrifices offered by the Kohain Gadol?
  3. Why is Moshe’s name not mentioned in this Sedra?
  4. What was the significance of the 7 days of Miluim?”
Rabbi Michael D. Klein

Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.

Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.

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