For the week ending 12 February 2022 / 11 Adar Alef 5782

Parashat Tetzaveh

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Hashem 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.

Hashem 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. Hashem commands that another Altar for incense be built from acacia wood and covered with gold. Aharon and his descendants should burn incense on this Altar each day.


Weapons of Mass Distraction

“I shall rest My Presence among the Children of Yisrael and I shall be their G-d.” (29:45)

At the end of the section on Torah prohibitions in the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban adds a list of mitzvot that he believes the Rambam should have also included. The second of these is the mitzvah not to forget the events at Mount Sinai. The Ramban lists this as a negative mitzvah, a “Don’t do.” Meaning, so to speak, “Don’t spoil the situation as it stands.” This is difficult to understand, for it suggests that the experience of Mount Sinai is something current right now and we must not do anything to destroy our awareness of it. The Ramban says that we should not “remove it from our consciousness” that “our eyes and our ears” should be constantly and forever at Mount Sinai.

The message is that the broadcast from Mount Sinai is constantly with us, and all we need to do is not to ‘jam’ the broadcast.

Before the Torah was given, it says in Shemot 19:16, “And it was on the third day, when it became morning, and there were sounds and lightning flashes…” After the giving of the Torah it says in 20:15, “And all the people saw the sounds and the torches…”

The lightning flashes that precede the Torah become torches afterwards. Before the giving of the Torah, the Word of Hashem was like lightning — a flash that lasted for a moment. After the Torah’s giving, the words of the Torah became fixed, continuous and continuing — like a torch. The essence of a torch is that its light continues. It does not vanish in a flash. After the Torah was given to us, its sound is eternally present.

With this we can understand Onkelos’ translation of the verse in Devarim 5:19, describing the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai as a “great sound that does not cease,” meaning you can still hear it today.

So why don’t we hear it?

The concept that the world is filled with sounds that we cannot hear was once difficult to grasp, but nowadays many people have in the pocket a device that makes this concept abundantly clear. The air is full of sounds. Sounds that travel from one side of the world to the other. A myriad of voices throngs the atmosphere.

The Talmud (Yoma 20b) makes a cryptic statement about the abounding sounds in the world: “Were it not for the sound of the sun in its orbit you would hear the sound of the hordes of Rome, and were it not for the sound of the hordes of Rome you could hear the sound of the sun in its orbit.”

In other words, there is a fight in this a world, a fight to dominate the “airwaves” between the voice of Rome and the voice of the sun.

One of the names of Yaakov Avinu, Jacob, is Shemesh — “Sun.” In Yosef’s first dream of the sun and the moon and the stars bowing to him, Yaakov is represented by the sun.

The sun — Yaakov Avinu — and the “hordes of Rome” — the descendants of Esav — are locked in a battle for the airwaves, and for the minds and hearts of mankind.

To the extent that we tune in to Esav’s broadcast, we will not be able to hear the unending and eternal broadcast from Mount Sinai.

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