Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Tetzaveh - 5776

My friends,

This is the second Parasha (Portion) that deals with the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle, which will serve as a traveling Temple when the Israelites start their journey towards the Promised Land.

Three main topics are covered in this Parasha:

  1. The Lighting of the Menorah.
  2. The special garments for the priests.
  3. The initiation of Aaron and his sons as the Kohanim, the priests, who will serve in the temple.

Moses is commanded to ask the Children of Israel to donate pure olive oil to be used for the lighting of the Menorah. The job of lighting the Menorah every single day, so that there is light in the Temple from evening to morning, is given to Aaron and his descendants.

The 43 verses in chapter 28 are dedicated to describing the various garments of the ordinary priests and the special garments for the High Priest to be used on Yom Kippur. It is interesting to note that this is the only Parasha, since Moses came onto the scene, that his name is not mentioned at all. Being that this Parasha is all about the duties and initiation of the Kohanim, the priests, Moses left the stage, to allow his brother to be the center of this Parasha.

Before the Torah was given the Children of Israel were asked if they would be willing to be a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation. They answered in the affirmative. Today, we don't have any role for the Kohanim (people who can claim that they are descendants of a Kohen) except for getting the first Aliyah to the Torah, bless the people and be present at a Pidyon Haben. Any Jew can lead services, read from the Torah, teach Torah, etc. So that in a true sense of the word, each and every individual is a Kohen, a priest in the service of G-d.

When you light the Shabbat candles, and recite the Hamotzi and the Grace after Meal, you are the Kohen. When you bring Jewish practices into your home, you are the Kohen. When you contribute to building a society that is peaceful and involved in many acts of Tzedaka and acts of loving kindness, you are a Kohen.

Aaron, according to our tradition, was a person who was Ohev Shalom, loved peace, and Rodef Shalom, pursued peace.

Moses cleared the stage this Shabbat to remind us that we are all Kohanim, priests in the service of G-d.

Be a good Kohen!

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram