Torah Weekly - Parshat Tetzaveh
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 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.
"You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon your brother, for glory and splendor" (28:2)
"The body is the most natural thing in the world. Why not show it off? These religious people think the body is something to be ashamed of ."
Why are religious Jews so scrupulous about covering their bodies?
Imagine you have a priceless diamond. Would you take it out into the street in your hand? I don't think so. You'd put it in a plush lined jewel case.
Our body is a precious possession. It is the soul's abode in this world. To honor it, we keep it away from the eyes of the world, wrapping it in the plush lining of clothing.
The more holy something is, the more it requires covering. The holiest place on earth was the Kodesh Hakodashim, the Holy-of-Holies in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). It was also the most covered place in the world. It was sequestered in the very center of the Temple. Only once a year, on Yom Kippur, would the kohen gadol enter there.
Far from "something to be ashamed of," the body is one of the holiest things in the world. Thus, we cover it.
So why didn't Adam and Chava wear clothes?
One of the enduring icons of the last millennium is a photo of an astronaut standing on the moon, his name, Buzz Aldrin, neatly embroidered on his spacesuit. Now, everyone knows that this bulbous white outfit is not Aldrin; rather, when it says "Aldrin" it means that Aldrin is inside the suit.
Before Adam and Chava ate from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," it was impossible to think that the body was the essence of the person. It was perfectly clear that the body was just a "spacesuit" for the soul.
However, when Adam and Chava ate from the forbidden fruit, this changed. The name of the tree of whose fruit they ate was the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." In the Torah, knowledge always connotes connection. Knowledge itself is the connection of disparate facts into a cohesive whole. And the Torah refers to the marital connection between man and woman as "knowledge." Eating from this tree caused a connection, a mixing of good and evil.
Good is the essence and purpose of this world; Evil exists only to allow free choice. Eating from the tree caused a mixing of Good and Evil, making it possible to mistake Evil for Good - to mistake Non-essence for Essence. Thus, Man began to confuse his essence - the soul - with his "spacesuit" - the body.
In order to emphasize that the human essence is the soul, G-d made garments for Man so that the body should not be over-emphasized.
However, there's one place where the body needs no covering - the face. The Hebrew word for face, panim, is spelled the same as the Hebrew word p'nim, meaning "inside." The face is the one place in the body where you can see the soul bursting through skin and tissue. The face needs no covering - for the soul shines through it as it always did.
- Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch
- Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner
- Rabbi Yaakov Hillel
- Rabbi Zev Leff
- Rabbi Mordechai Perlman
Yechezkel 43:10 - 27
Yechezkel receives a prophecy about the future Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). G-d lists the exact measurements of the altar and details the offerings of the dedication ceremony. Bnei Yisrael are to turn from sin, the cause of G-d's withholding this third and final Temple.
Every Jew is cognizant of G-d's promise to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash, so why do we not pray for it with all our hearts? Why do we not show ourselves worthy of G-d's redemption?
We may know something intellectually, but if we cannot relate to it, it will never become reality. We are aware of some abstract concept called "Beit Hamikdash" whose holiness, we are told, is beyond our comprehension. Precisely due to its abstractness, we are unable to picture it, unable to see it as real. This is why Yechezkel is told to recount its exact measurements, to help us see that it is a reality. The Temple is there "just waiting to be built."
So too, we read daily the korbanot-prayers describing the Temple offerings. The more we do this, the easier it becomes for us to see the Temple as a reality. The Temple is ready for us; now we have to get ready for the Temple.
Selections from classical Torah sources
which express the special relationship between
the People of Israel and Eretz Yisrael
When Gideon rallied an army of 32,000 to battle against a Midian-led invasion, he was commanded by Hashem to reduce the number of his soldiers so that there would be no possibility for assuming that the Divinely orchestrated Israelite victory was due to their own power. The selection process described in Shoftim (7:1-7) took place at the spring called Ein Charod, and Gideon's tiny remaining force of 300 won a miraculous victory.
It was at this spring that the Mongol invasion of the Middle East was stopped in 1260 by the Mamluk army of Egypt.
In 1927 Kibbutz Ein Charod established its home near this historical site and split into two communities in 1953 over ideological differences that then swept the socialist kibbutzim in Israel.
Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
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