Parshat Tetzave Vol.10 No.23

Date of issue: 15 Adar 5761 -- March 10, 2001

This week's issue has been sponsored 
by the Yablok family to mark the first Yahrzeit 
of their father & grandfather 
Shmuel Eliezer ben Osher Zev Yablok Z"L.

How to sponsor

This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Mark Smilowitz
Simcha Tropp
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-*Taanit Esther*

When the Supply Runs Dry
by Rabbi Mark Smilowitz

In the barren wilderness, it might have been appropriate to say, "Olives don't grow on trees." The commandment that opens Parshat Tetzave, to collect olive oil from the Jewish People with which to light the Menorah, was therefore not so simple to fulfill. The Ramban suggests that the Jews must have had stores of olive oil that they took out of Egypt, and from these stores they were asked to donate for the sake of the Menorah.

What is puzzling is not this commandment itself, but rather its almost word for word repetition in the book of Vayikra (24:1-4). None of the other commandments regarding the building of the Mishkan are restated, so why does this specific commandment warrant exact repetition in a later book of the Torah?

Ramban offers an approach to resolve this problem, and his solution contains a profound lesson. In Tetzave, Moshe commanded the people to donate their oil for the Menorah, but the oil was only one of the myriad of items - including gold, silver, copper, wool, skins, dyes, spices, vessels, etc. - that the people donated in order to construct the Mishkan. While the other materials were needed for a one-time use, such as to build an altar or to make the vestments, the oil that was donated was used daily and the supply soon expired. Therefore, in Vayikra, Hashem repeats the commandment to donate oil so that the consumed supply could be replenished.
The Ramban's idea corresponds to our observation of human behavior. One can imagine that during the initial planning of the Mishkan, the feelings of elation and excitement involved in putting up the Mishkan for the first time were strong enough to inspire even the most lazy among the people to donate their time and money to the project. However, after the initial excitement of the new wears off and the challenges of daily maintenance develop, people tend to lose steam. "What are they asking for now, more donations? But I gave already!" To respond to this human tendency, another commandment is issued, as if to say, "It is not enough to get involved in the building of the Mishkan; all the people are also responsible to keep it running."

If the building of the Mishkan can be understood as a metaphor for all spiritual endeavors, then there is a fundamental lesson to be learned from the repetition of the commandment to donate the oil. Have we ever gotten involved in a spiritual project because it seemed worthy at the time but then bailed out because the daily upkeep was too hard? For example, were we ever inspired to set aside time for learning and then stopped because we found the continuous involvement more than we bargained for? Have we devoted time and money to a religious institution to help it get off the ground and then moved on to new endeavors and forgotten about the original one? What we learn from the Ramban is that if we are to see the fruits of the labor which we originally found worthy enough to pursue, we need to be prepared to re-inspire ourselves when the initial excitement wears off and continue to devote our time and energy with the same zeal and excitement with which we started.

Do the Clothes Make the Man?
by Simcha Tropp

The Torah at the beginning of this week's Parsha, Ve'asita Bigdei kodesh Le'aharon Achicha, "You shall make holy clothing for Aharon your brother" (28:2). The clothing of the Kohanim is so important that the Torah devotes nearly forty Pesukim detailing them. Indeed, if a Kohen performed his jobs without wearing the special garments, he would be liable for death. Why is the Kohen's clothing so significant?

Ramban cites many parallels from Tanach to show where kings and other respectable people wore clothing similar to the Kohen Gadol's. He concludes simply that the significance of the Kohen's clothes was to give the Kohen dignity in the eyes of Bnai Yisrael.

The early 20th century Bible commentator Benno Yaakov writes that clothing is more than something that signifies one's dignity. He cites Parshat Bereishit in which Hashem made clothing for Adam and his wife. Adam had to learn to make everything else he needed, but Hashem Himself clothed Adam and his wife to make them holy and to reflect that they were different than animals. Only then could they be the parents of the world.

Moshe did a similar thing when he clothed Aharon, thereby inaugurating him as the Kohen Gadol. When a person wears special clothing, he feels special because his clothing reminds him that he is different from others. When a Kohen wears his special clothing he feels special because he is reminded that he is unique because he is a Kohen.

Even though we are not all Kohanim, this concept reminds us that the way we dress can affect the way we feel. We should all realize that we are the chosen people of Hashem, and we should use the Mitzvot as our clothing to separate us from the rest of the world.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editor: Moshe Glasser
Publication Editor & Webmaster: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Ilan Tokayer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Shuky Gross, Michael Humphrey, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Consultant: David Gertler
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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