Print This Post Print This Post

Isn’t something missing?

Written by Jeremy

There are three main ideas that seem to be present on the macro level in Parshat Tetzaveh – the clothes of the Kohen Gadol, the korbonos (sacrifices), and the fact that Moses is not mentioned by name.
There’s an expression that rings true in Jewish thought – clothes make the man. The Kohen Gadol had a very important job to do. Just like in the professional world, a person has to dress the part. Someone might be the best businessman on Wall Street, but if he wears a T-shirt and ripped Levi’s on Wall Street he won’t get very far. Similarly, the Kohen Gadol had to dress properly for his job of being the like between the Jewish people and G-d. Therefore he had G-d on his mind always (the Tzitz, with the inscription “Holy to G-d” on his forehead) and the Jewish nation in his heart (the breastplate with a Jewel for each tribe of Israel).

The order of the sacrifices also teach us something very interesting. The first sacrifice is for sin. The first thing we have to do in order to close to G-d is purify ourselves and repent for our sins. The second sacrifice is completely burned up to G-d. Certain times in life we have to make difficult choices. This sacrifice teaches us that when self-interest conflicts with G-d’s wishes, remember that “it’s not about me.” The most interesting aspect of the sacrifices, though, is the last. What could be the final step in coming close to G-d, better than offering everything to Him? The final sacrifice is split between man and G-d – half of it is offered up to G-d and half of it is eaten by man. Thus, we must remember that we were created to be partners in creation, and in order to properly do tikkun olam we have to work with G-d and use our talents in this world.

So why is Moshe Rabeinu not mentioned only in this parsha? It seems quite strange – G-d speaks to Moses, but basically says, “Hey, you!” Here’s what I think: Some parshas feel complete. You read about Abraham and when G-d tells him to leave the comforts of home you know where he is going and how he will forever change the world. You read about the Jews leaving Egypt and you think about how they got there, how G-d rescued them from slavery, and where they are going. The parshas are almost a microcosm of the entire Torah. But a parsha like Tetzaveh just doesn’t do it for most people. Is this it? I think G-d answers this question by leaving out Moses. Moses is the bearer of the halacha, the emissary of the divine law. It is because of Moses that we know how to govern every action of our lives, from the time we wake up in the morning to the time we say the Shema at night and go to sleep. Perhaps Moses is left out of this week’s parsha to indicate to us that it is not enough for the Kohen Gadol to just “do his thing” on behalf of the Jewish nation. Don’t think you are doing enough if all you do is pay your half-sheckel dues to the Temple each year and life your life any way you want. Moses is left out to indicate that any Jew who thinks that the only important aspect of living a religious life is giving money to a religious institution where someone else does something on your behalf is missing the boat, and living a Judaism devoid of Moses and his laws! And maybe that’s why the Kohen Gadol specifically wears eight articles of clothing, and the parsha is so exacting in describing eight. As we know from the Maharal, eight is the number of spiritual completion, one beyond seven, the number of physical completion (seven days of the week). By wearing eight garments, the Kohen Gadol is operating in a different world; but as important as his service is for the nation of Israel, each and every one of us also has an obligation to live in this world, governing our lives by the laws of Moses.

Leave a Comment