I AM SURE YOU ALL KNOW THE PARSHA INSIDE AND OUT BY NOW, BUT JUST FOR TRADITION’S SAKE – HERE ARE SOME ANSWERS
1. Which central figure is not mentioned in our parsha at all? Why?
Moshe, our great leader and teacher is not mentioned by name once in Tetzaveh, an entirely unique occurrence, and certainly not by chance.
One reason for the omission is that the parsha relates to the nation and Aaron, the Cohens and Levites who each played a role in the sin of the calf, and their instruction as to fixing themselves – and Moshe was not appartied to it.
Another reason which focuses on Moshe losing out on being involved in an entire parsha is because Hashem originally wanted Moshe to also assume the role of High Priest, but he declined out of concern for his older brother’s feelings. There was a slight fault on Moshe’s part during this exchange, and thus he is omitted from this parsha of inaugurating the priesthood.
A final explanation comes from a later parsha, where the nation is being troublesome andrebellious and Hashem tells Moshe that He is going to wipe them out and start again from him. Moshe, the loyal shepherd, replies ‘ if you wipe them out, I also want my name wiped out of Your book’ – and so to fulfill the decree in some measure he was wiped out of this parsha.
2. How many garments did the regular cohen wear during his temple service? The High Priest?
A: 4 and 8 respectively
3. What are they and what is their significance?
1. The Shirt (Cutones) wards off arrogance – which is often expressed by a large or puffed out chest.
2. The belt (Avnet) comes to separate the heart from the lower body/loins, in order to guard the heart from lustful urges. There is a bracha in the morning blessings ‘Blessed is He who girds Yisrael with might” – specifically ordained on the wearing of a belt, which we use as encourage to empower the top half of our body over our lower half.
3. The hat/headdress (Mitznefes) is for humility, to realize that there is one above us (in fact, the word Yarmulka is a conjunction of Yareh Malkhus – fear of heaven – there is a story in the gemarra that a mother of an extremely wild and rebellious boy was advised to make sure he covered his head at all times, and it would help hone his power for good)
4. The pants (michnasayim) are to control and contain the base physical self.
5. The Efod/decorated apron atones for idolatry and heretical inclinations. It is the only garment which mainly faces backwards, to demonstrate the direction this involvement causes one to stray.
6. The Tzitz – golden plaque on the Cohen Gadol’s forehead, embossed with the words “Holy to Hashem” – is to ward off brazenness. In kaballah, it is taught that our minds also speak, and such masters such as the Arizal could read a person by observing their forehead – and so the Tzitz (which means a sprouting), guides the speech of our mind to Hashem.
7. The Me’il -(long gown) helps guard against loshon hara. It is made like armor, with a double reinforced neck hole, called the lip of the garment, that it should not breach under pressure, just as one must reinforce his mouth from succumbing to lowly speech. Also negative speech tarts at the head, when we focus on bad things, and are not empathetic and compassionate towards others, but eventually it is all encompassing, and we must unite our whole selves to succeed in it. It is made of techelis – which is a bluish colour intended to remind one of Hashem’s throne, which should instill a fear of heaven not to be lax in these matters, and the bottom is decorated with pomegranates which are known to have 613 seeds, representing the mitzvos, for the best remedy to negative behaviour is to be busy with good deeds.
8. The Choshen Mishpat, is an ornament set with 12 different precious stones, each inscribed with the name of a different tribe. It is to atone for errors in judgment. Aaron, who had no jealousy towards Moshe being chosen by Hashem to lead the nation, and came to him with a happy, undivided heart (despite Moshe’s concern’s as we mentioned), merited to wear this great prophetic instrument on his heart.
3. What are some common Israeli names taken from the rows in the choshen?
A: 1st row – Bareket
2nd Row – Sapir
3rd Row – Leshem
4. What does it mean that the burning of the offerings are a ‘pleasing aroma to Hashem”?
A: Not that Hashem prefers certain smells, or that He has any benefit or interest in physical pleasures at all, rather that our doing the mitzvos gives Hashem nachas, that we are doing His will, and fuffilling the goal of creation.
5. What word is used in the command to light the menorah? Why?
Not ‘lehadlik’ – the typical word for lighting (as we say when we light shabbos candles), but ‘leha’a lot’ which is the same root as aliyah, to go up. This form is a causative, i.e. to cause to go up. The ramification of this is that the mitzvah is fulfilled only when the candles are lit well enough to hold their own. The lesson for us as teachers and parents is not to be satisfied with merely exciting other to good and truth, but nurturing until they are independent. – For the greatest kindness is to help another bring out their personal greatness – in other words, the ultimate chesed is to make oneself dispensable.