VORTIFY YOURSELF

From
Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail rebiyosil@earthlink.net

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PARSHAT TETZAVEH/SHABBAT ZACHOR

Shemot (Exodus) 27:20 - 30:10
Maftir: Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19
Haftorah - I Samuel 15:2-34
020223

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A special Mazal Tov to my son Yudi and his wife Melissa on the birth of their son (and my first grandchild) may he live a long and happy life. The Brit will be held on Purim.

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The Shabbat before Purim is called Shabbat Zachor (the Shabbat of remembering what Amalek did to us), therefore we remove two Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) from the Ark. From the first we read seven Aliyot from Parshat Tetzaveh, and the final Aliyah (Maftir) is read a second Torah scroll, from the book of Devarim 25:17-19.

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Sometimes one is lucky enough to hear a "VORT" that stays in the mind forever. I want to share with all of you a Vort that I heard from Reb Aaron Leifer ZT”L (an abbreviation for Zecher Tzaddik Livracha - may he be remembered for a blessing) - the Nadvorner Rebbe in Tzfat. When I lived in Tzfat, I would Daven (pray) at the Rebbe's Minyan in his home every Shabbat. The Davening was spiritual, the Kiddush afterwards was always scrumptious, and the VORT at his table that was always inspirational. On Shabbat Parshat Tetzaveh, 5741 (1981), he delivered the following Vort at Kiddush; In our Parsha, Hashem instructs Moshe that when the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) would be completed, he should inform Aharon and his sons that they will serve there as priests. Aharon would be High Priest, his four sons will serve as plain priests, and when they perform the holy service, they are required to wear the priestly attire ( chap. 28 verses 1-3). The instruction begins with the following words:

"V'ATAH HEKREV AYLECHA AHARON ACHICHA

And you shall bring Aharon your brother close to you..."

(Shemot 28:1)

This language is strange - “And you shall bring Aharon your brother close to you..." What does the Torah mean when it says, "...you shall bring [him] close..."? What does bringing Aharon close to Moshe teach us?

Hashem was saying to Moshe that the service in the Tabernacle was atonement for the sin of worshipping the golden calf. Since some of the Bnei Yisrael (Israelites) were involved in this horrendous transgression (only forty days after receiving the Torah), an everlasting atonement of service was needed - first it was accomplished in the daily service in the Tabernacle, then this atonement was transferred to the Temple service, and after the Temple’s destruction, through the process of our daily prayers. This was the only acceptable way to rectify things and keep the knowledge of Hashem and His great benevolence at the forefront of every Jew's consciousness.

But who built the golden calf? Chapter 32 begins with the words:

"And the people saw that Moshe delayed in descending the mountain, "

Before leaving the Israelite camp to receive the Torah, Moshe told the people that he was going up Mt. Sinai for forty days and forty nights. But the people didn't calculate the time properly (they counted the partial day that he ascended as one full day) and without realizing the one more day remained before Moshe would return, they believed that he had died upon the Mount Sinai.

Verse one continues:

"...and the people gathered around Aharon and said to him, 'Rise up, make for us gods that will go before us, for we do not know what has become of this man Moshe who brought us up from Egypt. ' "

When Aharon said:

"...Remove the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me."

He was actually attempting to delay the people until Moshe would descend from the mountain. He knew that the women of Israel would never actively worship an idol and for this the Rabbis rewarded them at the time of the Talmud with a number of Mitzvot including lighting the Shabbat and holiday candles.

Hashem knew that Aharon's only involvement in building the golden calf was to delay the process. For that reason Aharon was not among the three thousand idol worshippers who were put to death (Shemot 32:26 - 29), nor those who died in the ensuing plague:

"Then Hashem struck the people with a plague, because THEY MADE the calf that Aharon made." (Shemot 32:35)

Therefore,

"VATAH HEKREV AYLECHA AHARON ACHICHA

And you shall bring Aharon your brother close to you..."

Moshe was required to inform Aharon that Hashem wanted him as High Priest. Hashem knows everyone's actions and everyone's intentions. Hashem knew that Aharon's involvement in building the golden calf was only to delay, not to worship. It was up to Moshe to relay this feeling to his brother Aharon. He had to "bring him close" so that any guilt feelings that Aharon might feel deep inside would be quashed.

But this "closeness" had another aspect. Hashem also knew that Moshe desired to be the High Priest of Israel. Of course, Moshe's reasons were pure - he wanted to do this because it was one additional way to come closer to Hashem. But that was not meant to be.

When Moshe stood before the burning bush receiving Hashem's instructions to be His spokesman, Moshe claimed that he was unable to fulfill the task because he had a speech impediment; "...Please my L-rd, I am not a man of words ...for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of speech."

Then Hashem said to him;

"Who makes a mouth for a man, or who makes one dumb, or deaf, or sighted or blind? Is it not I, Hashem? So now, go! I shall be your mouth and teach you what you shall say.' He [Moshe] replied, 'Please my L-rd, send whomever You will send.' The wrath of Hashem burned against Moshe and He said, 'Is not Aharon your brother, the Levite over there? I know that surely he will speak...' " (Shemot 4:10 - 14)

Moshe lost the right to be Hashem's spokesman (both in the court of Pharaoh and in the Tabernacle) during this particular episode. Aharon took nothing away from Moshe; Moshe lost his right to be Hashem's spokesman on his own.

Therefore,

"VATAH HEKREV AYLECHA AHARON ACHICHA

And you shall bring Aharon your brother close to you..."

Hashem was in essence saying, Moshe, do not feel or make your brother feel that he is taking anything away from you, bring him CLOSE to you. This is but an extension of Aharon's role as Hashem's spokesman. Subdue your own hurt feelings and feel good about Aharon's just reward.

The Hebrew letter Vav [in the word V'atah] which means "and" is a conjunction. What two concepts are connected with the words

V'ATAH HEKREV AYLECHA AHARON ACHICHA

AND you shall bring Aharon your brother close to you?

BOTH Aharon and Moshe were required to subdue their own feelings of inadequacy and/or rejection AND rejoice in Aharon's appointment as High Priest.

Often times when another human is chosen for some position over us, we feel bad and make the other person feel as if he is depriving us of something that we deserve. Hashem is Bochayn Kilayot (He searches our insides). He knows what we are worthy of and what we are not. Rather than waste energy on jealousy or worse, on hurting someone, we should inspect our own behavior and intentions for the truth of our "loss."

Every time this Parsha comes around, this Vort helps me come to grips with my own shortcomings.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig


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