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Weekly Torah study

Written and edited by Rosh Jamie Dallas

Parshat Tetzaveh


The jubilant Israelite holiday of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). Purim for this year 2021 began on this past Thursday night, February 25 and continues through Friday, February 26, (extending through Sunday in Jerusalem). It commemorates the (Divinely orchestrated) salvation of the Israelites in the ancient Persian Empire from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Israelites, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” Literally, Purim means “Lots” in ancient Persian; Purim was thus named this since Haman had thrown lots to determine when he would carry out his diabolical scheme, as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther). (What Is Purim?) The Talmud tells us that the “pomegranates” on the hem of the Priestly robe are symbolic for those Israelites who imagine themselves to be completely remote from their people. They may think of themselves in this way, but the Sages state that “even the emptiest among you are as full of good deeds as a pomegranate is full of seeds.” When the High Priest entered the Holy Sanctuary, he carried with him these Israelites as well, together with all the other Israelites, evoking Elohim’s blessing for them and arousing in all of them their sense of being joined with YHWH. This was the role of Mordechai, during the stirring times commemorated by Purim. Many Israelites in the vast Persian Empire were deeply assimilated. However, Mordechai was able to arouse them to face the threat posed by Haman and to stand up for being an Israelite. They had the chance to escape by converting to Haman's religion, bowing to him and worshipping him. Mordechai, caring for every single Israelite, was able to inspire them all. He made them recognize that, however remote they sometimes may feel, the true inner reality of each person is the portion of Torah within. This recognition triggered the Divine response described in the Scroll of Esther, the miraculous turnabout in which the Israelites were saved. (The Task of Leadership)
Daily Readings:

Sunday Torah (Exodus 27:20 - 28: 30): YHWH commands the Israelites to use the purest of olive oils for the daily kindling of the Menorah. Moses is instructed to consecrate Aaron and his sons by dressing them in special priestly garments. The Torah describes the making of the High Priest's ephod — a reversed apron which covered the back — and its precious-stone-studded shoulder straps. Next, we read about the High Priest's Choshen Mishpat (Breastplate of Judgment). It contained four rows of precious stones, each row containing three stones. Artisans engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel upon these twelve stones. This cloth breastplate contained a fold wherein the “Urim and Thummim,” believed to be two objects meaning “Light and Perfection” by some, or a parchment on which was written The Most High’s Name by others, whatever the case is this Urim and Thummim were inserted within this fold of the breastplate. The Choshen Mishpat was then secured by straps which connected it to the ephod. (Tetzaveh Aliyah Summary) Monday Brit HaChadasha (Ephesians 6:10-20): This section of the Brit Chadasha is focusing on the garments worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), which is physically the Whole Armor of Elohim. Just like with the Armor of Elohim that Apostle Shaul is explaining to us, these priestly garments also had the power to enable the Kohen Gadol “to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the high places.” Apostle Shaul encourages us to symbolically adorn ourselves in special garments reminiscent to the garments worn by the Kohen Gadol, in order to fight off the wiles of the adversary. “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Rosh Jamie Dallas) Tuesday Torah (Exodus 28:31 - 29:18): This Torah Portion reading describes the last two of the garments which were exclusive to the Kohen Gadol (High Priest): the Me'il (Robe) and the Tzitz (Crown). The Me'il was a blue robe which was adorned with golden bells and cloth “pomegranates.” The Tzitz was a golden band worn on the forehead,
which was engraved with the words “Holy to YHWH.” The Torah then describes the four garments worn by both the Kohen Gadol and the regular Kohenim (Priests): the Tunics, Turbans, Sashes and Pants. Next this section of the readings describes the procedure for consecrating Aaron and his sons as Kohenim. Aaron and his sons were brought to the door of the sanctuary, they immersed in a Mikvah (Baptism / Ritual Bath) and were dressed in the priestly garments. Moses then offered various inaugural sacrifices on their behalf. (Tetzaveh Aliyah Summary) Wednesday Brit HaChadasha (Luke 1:5-25): This section of the Brit Chadasha (Renewed Covenant) is dealing with the bells and cloth pomegranates that were place on the bottom of the robe worn by the Kohen Gadol. As we are introduced to the father of Yochanan the Mikvah (John the Baptist) it was made clear that he was functioning as the Kohen Gadol that year burning the Ketoret (Incense) upon the altar in the Holy Chamber. We are then told that “the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of YHWH standing on the right side of the altar of Ketoret.” We were taught from the Torah Portion that the bells worn by the Kohen Gadol were placed their for his protection; so my question is what would have happened if the people outside the Mishkan would have all of a sudden not heard those bells ringing? As the angel Gabriel had that encounter with Zechariah and if he was not the upright person that everyone believed him to be; what would have happened with the sound of those bells? When “Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him;” if he wasn’t right, what would have happened concerning those bells? (Rosh Jamie Dallas) Thursday Torah (Exodus 29:19-46): The Torah continues describing the procedure for the offering, and the consumption of the inaugural sacrifices. YHWH commands Moses to repeat this inaugural service for a seven-day period, after which the consecration will be complete. Also included in this section is a description of how future High Priests are to be inducted. YHWH instructs the Israelites to offer two burnt offerings daily for perpetuity: one lamb in the morning and one in the afternoon. YHWH promises to dwell in the Tabernacle. (Tetzaveh Aliyah Summary)
Friday Brit HaChadasha (Hebrews 7:11-28): This section of the Brit Chadasha is dealing with the priesthood and in particular the inauguration of all future Kohenim Gedolim (High Priests). In this section one of the Talmadim (Disciples) is trying to explain and compare the Aaronic Priesthood with the Priesthood of Melech Tzedek. He begins by saying that the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood is not perfect, meaning that it is merely a copy of the original Priesthood and thus not Eternal, like the priesthood of Melech Tzedek. “The former Kohenim were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but He (The Meshi’ach / Ben-Yospeh) holds his priesthood permanently, because He continues Forever. Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to YHWH through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” This is the difference between dealing with the Shadow of Things to Come versus coming face to face with the Real Thing for which the shadow is cast. “For the Torah makes men Kohenim Gedolim which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the Torah — the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.”(Rosh Jamie Dallas) Shabbat Torah (Exodus 30:1-10): This section describes the Incense Altar which stood in the sanctuary. The priests are commanded to burn incense upon this altar twice daily. (Tetzaveh Aliyah Summary) Conclusion: In conclusion, almost every official job has an uniform which signifies either the office or position a person has within the organization, from McDonalds up to the Military we can tell what a person is or what they represent by what they are wearing. YHWH established this same standard when He commanded the children of Israel to make special garments for the Kohenim (Priests) to wear while they officiated in the Mishkan (Tabernacle): “You shall make holy garments for Aharon your brother, for glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2). The garments of the Priesthood were set apart for the ones serving YHWH in the Mishkan; they were not to be used by any other people or for any other purpose.
Not only were the Kohen’s clothes holy garments, they were also vestments for glory. The Hebrew word translated “Glory” is Kavod, (כבוד ); and it also means “Honor.” Its root meaning is closely connected with the Hebrew word for “Heavy;” to treat something lightly would be the opposite of glorifying it. Maimonides points out that the Kohen’s garments were not meant to glorify the Kohenim who wore them. Instead, the Kohen’s garments reminded the people of Elohim’s greatness, and thus it was to bring glory and honor to YHWH. The laws of the Priestly garments teach some important lessons about clothing. These laws show us how we respond to people depending on what they are wearing. When we go to court we know the Judge by their garment, at an airport we know the pilot by their garment, when a crime has been committed know the officer by their garment, at a hospital we know the doctor or nurse by their garments. Therefore, The Almighty is teaching us we must distinguish the Kohenim from the regular Israelites, and the Kohen Gadol from the regular Kohenim by the way they dress. Each person must dress the part for their particular role that they play in officiating the service of Elohim. (Rosh Jamie Dallas Commentary on Torah Club: Garments for Honor) What does the Haftarah Portion ( Ezekiel 43:10 - 43:27) … Have in common with the Sabbath School Lesson? Next Week’s Readings: Parashat Ki Tisa / ( פרשת תִשָּׂא ) Torah: Exodus 30:11 - 34:35 Haftarah: I Kings 18:20 - 39 Brit ha-Chadasha: Galatians 3:1–14; Revelation 4:1–11; Luke 11:14–23
Sources used for this Weeks Portion are Derived from: Loewenthal, Tali. The Task of Leadership., retrieved on February 26, 2021. Tetzaveh Aliyah Summary., retrieved on March 2, 2020. Torah Club: Depths of the Torah. Garments for Honor. Daniel Lancaster, First Fruits of Zion, retrieved on February 26, 2021. What Is Purim?, retrieved on February 26, 2021.

Shabbat Shalom

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