Dvar Torah Parshat Tetzaveh 5776 2016

We are told how Moshe was to inaugurate Aharon as Kohen Gadol and his sons into the priesthood. One of the acts was to sacrifice a ram and to take from its blood and smear it on the lobe of the right ear of Aharon and his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot.

This was a very significant symbolic act. Aharon and his sons and the Kohanim who followed in future generations were to serve as spiritual leaders of the Jewish people. Placing the blood on the ear, the hand and the leg of the Kohanim indicated that they must ever be mindful of the people to be prepared to serve them in every way.

They must listen attentively to all their needs. They must be ready to extend their hand to help in whatever way was necessary. They must be prepared to go and run to help those who require their assistance.

This applied to Kohanim in generations past when they were the leaders. Today it applies to our current leaders. They must be ready to know what our people need, to be ready to extend the help, and be prepared to reach out to meet the necessary needs of our people.


Dvar Torah on Parshat Tetzaveh 5774 2014

In describing the garments that were to be made for the Kohen Gadol the Torah says that a golden bell was to be attached to the hem of his robe. What was its purpose? The Torah tells us immediately: וְנִשְׁמַע קוֹלוֹ בְּבֹאוֹ אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ, “…Its sound shall be heard when he enters the Sanctuary…”. (Ex. 28,35)

This is an important provision for a leader, his voice must be heard when he enters to administer his duties. What does that mean? The name “leader” implies that he must lead the people and not simply be a follower. A leader must be one who is not afraid to take a stand when necessary and does not hesitate to voice his true opinion even if that would create opposition against him from among his followers.

וְנִשְׁמַע קוֹלוֹ בְּבֹאוֹ אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ, his voice must be heard when he wants to administer in his position. Unfortunately, we often see leaders who are afraid to take a stand when they feel it will create a problem for them. A true leader is one who lets his voice be heard and does not hesitate to lead in the proper direction.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tetzaveh 2013 5773

The saying is, “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it”. This is true, not only for wishes but one should be careful about everything he says.

Since Moshe Rabbenu was born his name appears in every Sidra except in this week’s Portion. (Excluding the Book of Deuteronomy where it is missing from four Portions,) The Bal HaTurim, a commentary on the Torah gives a unique reason.

When the Children of Israel sinned in the Wilderness, Hashem said to Moshe He will exterminate them all and build a new nation from Moshe’s descendants. (See Ex.32,10) Moshe pleaded that Hashem should forgive the people, or else,: מְחֵנִי נָא מִסִּפְרְךָ אֲשֶׁר כָּתָבְתָּ, “…erase me now from this book that You have written”. (Ex. 32,32) Chazal tell us, words that come out of the mouths of great people are carried out under all conditions. This, says the Bal HaTurim, was carried out by omitting mentioning Moshe’s name in this week’s Portion.

The Gaon of Vilna asks why Moshe’s name was omitted particularly in this week’s Portion and not in any other. He answers because this Portion is always read in the week when Adar 7 falls out and that is the date that Moshe died.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tetzaveh 5772 2012

The oil used to light the Menorah in the Mishkan and later in the Bet Hamikdash had to be שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית, “…pure, pressed olive oil, beaten…”. (Ex.27,20) Rashi explains that the oil was not obtained by grinding the olives in a mill, which is the normal process. Rather, the olives were placed in a mortar and beaten to avoid their oil being mixed with dregs. The first drop of oil that was extracted from each olive was collected and was used for lighting the Menorah.

The word זָךְ, translated in this context as pure has many different corollary meanings. It also means spotless, innocent, fine and many other translations. The Menorah on which this oil was lit had to be specifically made MIKSHAH, beaten. The word for beaten comes from the Hebrew word KASHEH which means hard.

We have a strange combination here. The Menorah had to be hard and the oil had to be pure and fine. The oil had to be fine and soft in contrast to the Menorah. The Kohen who lit the Menorah and was also a leader of the people had to have these same qualifications. He had to have a hard or strong nature and simultaneously he had to have a soft and pure streak in him.

A proficient person needs these qualities. At times he has to be strong and hard in his actions and at times he has to be soft and lenient in his dealings. The wise person knows when each of these characteristics and traits is called for.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tetzave 5771 2011

In the Book of Shemot which we are currently reading, Moshe’s name is mentioned constantly and in every Sidra. The only exception is in the Portion we read this Shabbat. Why is his name omitted? It is especially surprising since we read this Sidra during the week in which the Rabbis of the Talmud calculated that Moshe Rabbenu died, the seventh of Adar.

There is an interesting and insightful explanation given by Oznayim LaTorah, one of the homiletical works on the Torah. Most religions celebrate the death or the birth of its founder. They formulate a great observance for the occasion. Their faith is based around that particular individual.

Judaism does not condone any form of worship of an individual. Moshe was a great lawgiver and a great leader of our people, but he was simply an outstanding individual. We do not worship him nor grant him any supernatural powers. Hence the Torah omits his name from the reading during the week of his demise.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tetzave 5770 2010

Hashem says to Moshe: VE’ATAH HAKREV ELECHA ET AHARON ACHICHA VE’ET BANAV ITO, “Bring near to yourself Aharon your brother and his sons with him…:. (Ex. 28,1) The Midrash tells us when Hashem said this to Moshe, Moshe was displeased. Hashem then comforted him and said, “The Torah I possessed I gave to you.” (Ex. Rabbah 39;4)

What was Moshe displeased about and how did the response comfort him? Moshe was displeased because he saw that Aharon’s children were to take his place after he was gone and be the Kohanim. His own children were not destined to take Moshe’s place. A parent hopes his children will follow in his footsteps.

What was the response he received? Hashem told Moshe that the position of Kohen was an external status. A person becomes a Kohen automatically. Aharon’s children could inherit that. Torah, however, is a personal matter. It is not inherited and is not handed down automatically from parent to child. It must be earned by the individual. Moshe was given the Torah but his children had to earn it. It was not an item that could be automatically acquired.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tetzaveh 2009 5769 דבר תורה פרשת תצוה

Hashem said to Moshe: VE’ATAH HAKREV ELECHA ET AHARON ACHICHA, “And you bring Aharon your brother close to you…”. (Ex. 28,1) The purpose was to inaugurate Aharon into the position of Kohen Gadol. The Midrash tells us that when this happened Moshe was distressed. (Shemot Rabbah 37,4). He wanted the position for himself but Hashem said to him “I gave you the Torah”, implying that that is a greater honor.

The Dubnow Maggid explained it by comparing it to a suit of clothes. The suit has to fit. It cannot be worn by someone too small or someone too big. Similarly the leadership of the Kohen Gadol has to fit the people. Moshe was too great a personality and could not properly perform the functions required by this leadership.

The Talmud states also YIFTACH BEDORO KESHMUEL BEDORO, “Yiftach in his generation is like Samuel in his generation”. (R.H. 25b) Yiftach was a plain individual and he became the leader of the Jewish people in his time because he successfully defeated Israel’s enemy. Shmuel was a great prophet and was leader of Israel in his generation. The Talmud stresses the belief that every generation has the kind of leader that that generation deserves. Hence the leader must be respected in his time.

This is what Hashem said to Moshe. You are too far above the level of the people. Aharon fits the position better than you.