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Parshas Tetzaveh

Rabbi Pesach Siegel

Parshat Tezaveh

Feb 12, 2011

Parshas Tetzave 5771


Hashem speaks to Moshe Rabeinu, “And you, bring your brother, Aharon, close.” Aharon is to be the one who performs the service in the Mishkan. His children will carry on his legacy after his passing. Special garments are to be fashioned for them. 1


The Medrash Rabbah relates a parable. The story goes of how a man marries a wonderful woman, but after many years realizes that he can't have children with her. He then turns to his wife and tells her that he wants to take another wife so that he can fulfill the mitzvah of having children. Upon seeing the distress on his beloved’s face, the husband then requests that his present wife be the one to pick his second wife.  Hashem required one to perform the service in the Mishkan. Moshe was not to be the one. He is likened to the wife who cannot bear children. Hashem asks of Moshe Rabeinu to be the one to personally bring the chosen one close, his very own brother, Aharon. 2
The week of Parshas Tezave marks the culmination of the eight weeks of repentance called Shovavim Tat (Shmos, Va’Era, Bo, Beshalach, Yisro, Mishpatim, Terumah, Tetzave). 3


The name of Moshe Rabeinu is nowhere to be found within the parshah. This is the only instance of such an omission.



The very first mention of the institution of Kehunah (priesthood) from a Jewish perspective is within this parshah. Why is there no mention of the ones who would actually perform the service of the Mishkan in Parshas Terumah, which deals with the actual Mishkan?


Why is the office of Kehunah introduced in connection with the Bigdei Kehunah (special clothing worn by the Kohanim)? 4


Why would this parshah be the one segment where Moshe Rabbeinu's name is not mentioned? 5

Why does the Medrash seem to find Moshe Rabeinu unfit to be the Kohen Gadol due to his lack of childbearing ability? He was the father of two children.


Why is this parshah the concluding one for the weeks of Shovavim Tat?
Background/Deeper Understanding

Ever since the original sin of Adam HaRishon in Gan Eden, man has been set upon a path of tikkun (reconstruction).


Our sages tell us that there was a very noticeable difference between Adam before the sin, and Adam after the sin. The posuk describes Adam's skin as "Ohr" when being created. The word Ohr, prior to the sin was spelled with an alef, translated as "light”. His skin actually generated light. Before the sin, one can only imagine how perfect Adam was. He was formed in the image of God. Hashem Himself crafted his body. He knew all the secrets of the world. Just like a person loses his vision by looking into the sun, how much more would one go instantly blind by glancing at such a pure source of light.

After the sin, however, the alef used to describe his skin turned into an ayin, making the word mean regular "skin". Because Adam had now internalized the Evil Inclination, his physical aspect aside from his spiritual aspect was also deeply affected. The perfect sense of purity was lost, and his skin could therefore no longer shine like it did.
Moshe Rabbeinu’s physical body shared the attributes that Adam had before the great sin. Rashi relays that when Moshe was born his skin radiated. He lit up the entire house and everyone around him. People would be filled with wisdom just by gazing at Moshe. A simple view would open up emmes to anyone. The handiwork of G-d was glaringly evident in such a body. When the daughter of Pharaoh envisioned him, as a baby adrift in the Nile, she was compelled to throw off her idolatrous upbringing. It is said that Moshe was already born with a bris milah; he came into this world already fully attached to Hashem. His skin, in a way, contained the lost "alef". 6


Moshe Rabeinu could not be the Kohen Gadol. His body walked in the heavens from birth. He was so holy that Hashem consented that he separate from his wife. 7


The position of Kohen Gadol required an individual who was in Olam Hazeh (This World) as well, a person that connected everyone to the spiritual world. The Kohen Gadol was the person that united Bnei Yisroel in all aspects.

Aharon was chosen because he was attached to Olam Hazeh. He took upon himself the mission to transform the ayin back into the original alef.  Moshe had to be the one to choose because he had to enable that person to connect both worlds. He had to play a hidden role in the process. It is perhaps for this reason that although Moshe's name doesn’t appear in this week’s parshah on an external level, it appears on a hidden level. "Moshe", can either be spelled "Mem," "Shin," Hei," or each letter spelled out in its true form: "Mem" would be "Mem" "Mem", "Shin" would be "Shin" "Yud" "Nun, and "Hei" would be "Hei" "Alef." If one were to take the "Mem," Yud," "Nun," and "Alef," the only hidden letters of the name, it would equal one hundred one. The amount of pesukim in Parshas Titzaveh is also one hundred one.  8 Moshe has to be present!
Once the Kohen Gadol is mentioned, then the required garments are stated because each one  represents an aspect of turning physicality into spirituality. A few examples are: the hat that was worn, to atone for the sins of haughtiness. The belt was worn to separate the two halves of the body from bad thoughts. The pants were worn to atone from illicit relations etc. 9


When the Kohen Gadol wore the bigdei kehuna, the body of the Kohen was altered. The holy clothing had a tangible effect upon his physical body. He was the emissary of the people. Through the changes wrought in his body, the level of the physicality of the Bnei Yisroel was also raised up. 10  The gemara states that a Kohen was only considered a Kohen when he wore the priestly garments. When he wore ordinary clothing he was the same as a Yisroel in regards to performing service in the Mishkan. 11


Aharon HaKohen was fit to bridge the two worlds and pass on the greatness of the human body created in the image of G-d. He was successful in doing so with his own children. They inherited his body. Moshe Rabeinu, although he had children of his own, their physicality could not hope to match that of their father’s. His body was like that of an angel. They were not a true extension of their father. It is for this reason that he is compared to a wife who has not produced children. The gemora tells us that in the first seven days of the inauguration of the Mishkan, Moshe Rabeinu performed the service, but he had no need for bigdei kehuna. He wore a simple white garment. 12


The Shalah Hakodesh writes that the Choshen (breastplate) worn on the chest, covering the heart has the same letters as Nachash (snake). The Kohen Gadol, represented the complete reverse of Adam's sin. The name of G-d was inscribed on a golden plate hidden within, the names of the tribes inscribed on the stones revealed for all to see, and Aharon HaKohen joining the two together. He is the ohev shalom verodef shalom ohev es habriyos umekarvam latorah. 13


Thus, his role is specifically revealed, not in the verses of the formation of the Mishkan, but among those dealing with the priestly garments. He is the one to actively bring the world back to its former pristine state, but only through his connection with the perfect human, Moshe Rabeinu. Moshe Rabeinu is hidden though, and so is his name.
One can now understand why Parshas Titzaveh is the final parshah of Shovavim Tat. This parshah is the emblem for utter repentance and returning back to our former physical selves. Shovavim is the period reserved for teshuvah over misuse of the life force within our bodies. It is through this period that we are to recreate ourselves, and direct our life granting ability towards creating beings created in the image of G-d.


May we all be zoche to the recreation of our physical selves, to techiyas hamaysim, and geulah shleimah bimheira viyameinu.

1  Shemos, Perek 28, Posuk 1

2  Medrash Rabbah, Parshah 37, Piska 4

3  See Sefer HaShalah, Parshas Shemos, Rama MiPano, Maamar HaTeshuva, Perek 4

4  See Pirkei Torah by Rav Mordechai Gifter, z”l.

5  See Sefer HaZohar, Chelek 3, Remez 71

7  Tosafos, Meseches Shabbos 87a

8  Sefer Chanukas HaTorah, Shemos, Perek 27, Posuk 20

9  Meseches Erchin 17a

10  Nesivos Shalom, Parshas Tetzave

11  Meseches Sanhedrin 83b

12  Meseches Avoda Zara 34a

13  Pirkei Avos, Perek 1, Mishna 12

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