Torah Weekly

For the week ending 20 February 2016 / 11 Adar I 5776

Parshat Tetzaveh

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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G-d tells Moshe to command the Jewish People to supply pure olive oil for the menorah in the Mishkan(Tent of Meeting). He also tells Moshe to organize the making of the bigdei kehuna(priestly garments): A breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, a sash, a forehead-plate, and linen trousers. Upon their completion, Moshe is to perform a ceremony for seven days to consecrate Aharon and his sons. This includes offering sacrifices, dressing Aharon and his sons in their respective garments, and anointing Aharon with oil. G-d commands that every morning and afternoon a sheep be offered on the altar in the Mishkan. This offering should be accompanied by a meal-offering and libations of wine and oil. G-d commands that an altar for incense be built from acacia wood and covered with gold. Aharon and his descendants should burn incense on this altar every day.


The Great Blander

“And they will make the ephod…” (26-6)

Sometimes I think that someone has taken the whole world and put it into an enormous blender.

Everything becomes more like everything else. And everyone becomes more like everyone else. The modern communications and information technology — “The Great Blander” — has minced regional and cultural uniqueness into a universal cultural cholent. And many religious leaders seek to blur the very real differences between faiths and make them into one big feel-good, self-righteous buzz.

It’s a gray bland world we live in.

It’s well nigh impossible for us to imagine a world of stark white-and-black, a world in which great holiness vies with the very real power of tumah (spiritual impurity), Satanism, black magic and witchcraft.

All this has gone from the world.

“For many days, the Children of Yisrael will sit with no king, no minister, no offering, no pillar, and no ephod or teraphim (Sorcerer’s divining tool).” (Hoshea 3:4)

The ephod was one of the priestly garments, and one of the holiest things in the world. When there is no genuine holiness in the world, there are also no teraphim, no genuine idols or idol worship.

A long ago, if someone wanted to follow the path of witchcraft, Heaven left the possibility open to him. Nowadays, just as a dark veil has fallen over holiness, so too, true contact with the powers of darkness do not exist.

We see a similar idea in the Book of Genesis (25:21): “Yitzchak entreated opposite his wife because she was barren. G-d allowed Himself to be entreated by him.” When Rivka conceived, world history could have followed one of two paths: Either she could give birth to twins: one who would be the personification of good and truth, while the other stood for evil and falsehood. Alternatively, she could give birth to one child who would be a synthesis of great good and great evil — a great blandness.

Yitzchak prayed that there should be two children. Rivka prayed that there should only be one.

In the event, “G-d allowed Himself to be entreated” by Yitzchak’s prayer, meaning to the exclusion of Rivka’s. Why did G-d listen to Yitzchak and not to Rivka?

Rivka was a righteous person who came from evil parents, a “tzadeket ben rasha”. She knew true evil at first hand. It was unthinkable to her that there should be someone in the next generation of such evil. Infinitely preferable would be that evil should be diluted with good in one body. Yitzchak, however, was a righteous person who came from a background of holiness. He knew what moral excellence was. He had seen his father Avraham walk this planet. It was inconceivable to him that in the next generation there would be no one of outstanding righteousness like his father. Even if the price to pay would be the existence of incomparable evil, the existence of surpassing good and truth would be worth it.

Infinitely better than the Great Blandness.

  • Sources: Vilna Gaon; Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky

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