Aliya-by-Aliya Parshat T'zaveh 5759
Numbers in [square brackets] are the mitzva-countof the Sefer HaChinuch. Other counts differ.
Kohen First Aliya -14 p'sukim (27:20-28:12)
Moshe (his name conspicuously missing from this sedra) is told by G-d to command the people to take pure olive oil in order to light the lamps of the Menora. The Menora, to be located in the main section of the Mishkan, outside the Parochet (the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the larger section of the Sanctuary, called the KODESH), shall be tended and kindled on a daily basis . The lights shall shine from evening until morning, this being a perpetual law throughout the generations.
Why was Moshe's name left out of this sedra? The name Moshe appears more than 600 times thoughout the Torah since his birth in Sh'mot. His name does not appear in much of the book of D'varim, because he is the speaker in that book. The absence of his name from T'tzaveh though is most conspicuous. Commentaries point to theTalmudic teaching that a person should always be very careful of what he says. Many times, we say something in anger, or during an emotional moment, only to regret what we said when examined "in the light of the day". In the wake of the Golden Calf, G-d threatened to wipe the people out. Moshe's response was: "...if so,then wipe me out of the Book which You have written".
Moshe's "outburst" was successful; G-d recanted and did not destroy the People. Moshe's motive for saying whay he did was correct, but he still should not have said it the way he did. As a reproach to Moshe, and an eternal lesson for us, G-d "removed" Moshe's name from one portion of the Torah. It is the portion that mostoften falls closest to Moshe's birthdate and Yahrzeit. It also is the last sedra that G-d could have used, since Moshe's statement was made in next week's sedra, Ki Tisa. As such, it is as if G-d was extremely reluctant to punish Moshe in this manner. He waited a whole year, so to speak, to remove Moshe's name.
Perhaps there is a very different way of looking at this issue. Aharon HaKohen, older brother of Moshe Rabeinu, is most often in his younger brother's shadow. Although we are repeatedly reminded of an equality between Moshe and Aharon, the fact remains that it was Moshe alone who ascended Sinai to receive the Torah. Aharonwent part way up the mountain, but no one is like Moshe. In this sedra of T'tzaveh, we learn of the splendor and glory of the Kohen Gadol, of Aharon. By not using the name Moshe, it is as if he steps out of the spotlight so that the center of attention can be Aharon.
Another way of looking at this last point is to remember that the "original plan" was for Moshe to be the sole leader of the People. Because of his repeated hesitation to answer G-d's call, he was given Aharon as a spokesman and partner in leadership. In describing the inauguration of the Mikdash and the Kehuna, this sedra,perhaps more than any other, shows Moshe what he "missed out on". To refer to him by name in this sedra might be embarrassing to him, so to speak. Consequently, his name does not appear.
[SDT] The People of Israel are likened to the Olive - just as the olive shows its greatness (its oil) only after crushing and squeezing, so too does Israel show its special qualities after being subjected to the trials and tribulations of Jewish History. And Israel is compared to the oil of the olive - just as oil doesnot mix with other liquids, but rather floats above them, so too the Nation of Israel does not (should not) mix with the other nations of the world. And if we remain faithful to G-d, we will rise above the nations (or pretend nations) who seek to hurt us.
Moshe is next told to bring Aharon and his sons "front and center" to serve G-d as Kohanim. Special garments are to be made for the Kohen Gadol's glory and honor .
Talented artisans are to do the work. The garments are: the Choshen (Breastplate), the Ephod (decorative apron or cloak), Me'il (robe or poncho), Kutonet (linen tunic), Mitznefet (turban), and the Avneit (belt or sash).
Note: the Tzitz (forehead plate) and Michnasayim (short pants worn under the Kutonet) are among the garments but are not mentioned at this point in the narrative. Commentaries explain that the Tzitz isn't really a garment, and the Michnasayim was not for the honor and glory, but rather for modesty.
The artisans were to take the gold, dyed wools, and linen (for the purpose of making the garments).
[SDT] There are different meanings to the Torah's phrase "for honor and splendor". The Ramban gives it the straightforward meaning - that the garments of the Kohen Gadol were for his glory. They were royal garments befitting the position of the Kohen Gadol, who was like royalty. With his special garments, the Kohen Gadolprojected a perfect image. The garments helped present the Kohen Gadol to the People with great, and appropriate dignity. This would help the People understand and relate to the Kohen Gadol as the vehicle of the Divine Presence among them.
On a different level, we can say that the objects of glory were G-d and the People themselves. When the Kohen Gadol wore his special garments, and the people see him in his splendor, then there is an increase in honor to G-d. The special garments also increase our awareness of the Sanctity of the Beit HaMikdash, and weare inspired to repent.
"Clothes make the man." In the context of the Beit HaMikdash, the Kohen in general, and the Kohen Gadol in particular, is himself filled with awe and will take his responsibilities more seriously. In addition, each specific garment reminds the Kohen (Gadol), and us, of a different aspect of Jewish Law and Life. Thus theKohen's thoughts and intentions increase in purity.
Even without a Beit HaMikdash, we are affected by the lessons of many Temple- related mitzvot. One should dress especially for Shabbat and Yom Tov. One's own clothes, even during the week, should reflect the dignity of a Torah way of life. Modesty and neatness, plus the positive message we project to others are all partof our daily deportment.
The Ephod is to be woven from yarn made of threads of gold, three colors of dyed wool (blue, purple, crimson - the colors and shades are in dispute) and linen in an intricate style. The Ephod has two shoulder straps. The belt of the Ephod is made in the same manner as the Ephod itself, and is an integral part of it (nota separate piece that was attached). Two onyx stones (Shoham) were set on the shoulders, upon which were engraved the names of the tribes. These stones with the names serve as an eternal reminder for the Kohen Gadol.
[SDT] The Talmud Yerushalmi states that the name of Binyamin was engraved on both shoulder-stones, BIN on one and YAMIN on the other. This idea is supported by the language of the Torah - "From six of their names..." rather than "six of their names". In the last sedra of the Torah, when Moshe is blessing the tribes, theTorah says of Binyamin that "he will dwell between the shoulders, "U'Vein K'teifav shachen".
Levi Second Aliya - 18 p'sukim (28:13-30)
Gold settings and chains are to be made for the Ephod. The Choshen is made in the same intricate syle and manner of the Ephod. It is rectangular which when folded (which was the way it was worn) made a square measuring 1 ZERET (a span, which is half an Ama) on a side. Gold settings were woven into the Choshen to recievethe twelve precious stones in four rows of three stones each. Straps and fasteners were made so as to be able to firmly attach the Choshen to the Ephod. They must not be detached from each other . The Urim V'Tumim (parchment with the Divine Name of 42 letters on it) was inserted into the fold of the Choshen, and gavethe Choshen its miraculous powers.
[SDT] The letters of CHOSHEN rearrange to spell NACHASH, meaning "snake" but also meaning divination through the occult and black magic, powers in this world which are anathma to Torah and Judaism. L'havdil, the Choshen is one of our legitimate tools for revealing hidden things. Significant that these opposite "forces"are actually two sides of the same coin.
Six stands of T'cheilet-dyed wool (blue, opinions vary as to the shade) were twisted with a strand of gold to produce a thread. The same was done with Argaman-dyed wool (purple, blue-purple, other opinions) and gold, Shani-dyed wool (red, crimson) and gold, Sheish (white linen) and gold. Each thread was made of 7 strands- 6+1 of gold. Then the four threads were twisted together to form the yarn from which the Ephod and the Choshen were woven.
Note that these garments (and some of the others) were Shaatnez. Yet rather than be forbidden, it was a mitzva for the Kohen Gadol to wear these garments. No contradiction here. He Who said not to wear Shaatnez, commanded the K.G. to wear these garments. He who said that it is forbidden to slaughter an animal on Shabbat,commanded that the daily korbanot and the Musaf be done on Shabbat. He is the Boss. We try to understand what He has in mind, but it isn't always easy. In this case, maybe G-d is "reserving" Shaatnez for the Kohen Gadol and doesn't want us to use it for our own purposes. Or maybe G-d has something else in mind.
There are different opinions as to how the names of the tribes (with Levi and Yosef, rather than Ephraim and Menashe) were engraved on the Choshen. The opinion of Chizkuni (a Rishon from France who lived more than 700 years ago. He wrote a commentary on the Torah based on Rashi.) is that in addition to the names of the tribes, there are additional letters that spell the names Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, and Shivtei Yeshurun (another name for Bnei Yisrael). These additional letters are added to each successive stone so that each stone will end up with six letters engraved on it. Binyamin is the only 6-letter name, therefore no additional letters.
In addition to the neat arrangement of the 72 letters, all letters of the Alef-Bet are now represented, so that the Kohen Gadol can receive Divine communication via the Urim V'Tumim and the stones of the Choshen.
The Rambam's opinion is that the names of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov were all engraved on Reuven's stone, above his name. On the stone of Binyamin was engraved, below his name, SHIVTEI-KAH (not Shivtei Yeshurun).
The name of Binyamin was engraved on the stone known as YASHFEI, jasper. The g'matriya of the name of the stone is 10+300+80+5 = 395. The g'matriya of Binyamin ben Yaakov is 2+50+10+40+ 10+50 (162) + 2+50 (52) + 10+70+100+2 (182) = 396. (apparently, +1 or -1 doesn't ruin a G'matriya match.)
Sh'lishi Third Aliya - 13 p'sukim (28:31-43)
The Me'il was made of T'cheilet wool (some shade of sky blue). Its neck was especially reinforced to prevent tearing, which is prohibited . This prohibition applies to all the Kohen's garments, but is commanded in the context of the Me'il. The hem of the Me'il was adorned with gold bells and multi-colored "pomegranates" of wool and linen.
The TZITZ was to be made of pure gold with the words KODESH LASHEM, Holy unto G-d, hammered out as raised letters from the Tzitz. The Tzitz was secured to the Kohen Gadol's head by bands of T'cheilet wool.
The Kutonet - tunic and the Mitznefet (or Migba'at) were of pure linen.
The Avneit, belt was woven from the wools and linen. There is a dispute as to whether only the Kohen Gadol's belt was Sha'atnez or those of all Kohanim as well. According to the opinion that a regular Kohen also wore Shaatnez during service in the Beit HaMikdash, the belt would be required to be removed whenever the kohentook a break from service, for it would then be forbidden to wear..
[SDT] The Avneit was 32 Amot long, approximately 16 meters of belt. It took a long time to put on and it produced a large bulge that the Kohen always felt when he put his arms at his sides. Similarly, the Kohen's turban was wound from 16 Amot of linen strip and probably "sat heavy" on the kohen's head. Sources say thata kohen saw his turban whenever he raised his eyes. Similarly, the Kutonet was almost floor length and long sleeved, so the kohen always noticed his garments during Avoda. This "guaranteed" that the kohen would have proper Kavana during his sacred service.
For Aharon's sons (and all active kohanim), there were four garments - a tunic, turban, belt, and pants. The regular kohen's garments were also for honor and glory. Aharon and his sons were to be dressed in their garments and anointed to serve as kohanim. The linen pants of the kohanim, from waist to knees, was to preserve modesty.
R'vi'i Fourth Aliya - 18 p'sukim (29:1-18)
The consecration ceremony for Aharon and his sons is described in this portion. Sacrificial offerings included a bull (this very first offering in the Mikdash is the symbolic father of the Golden Calf and came as an atonement for that sin - even though we have not yet read about the Golden Calf in the Torah) and two rams,various types of matza-crackers made from flour and oil. The kohanim-to-be immersed in a mikve and were dressed in their special garments. They were anointed with the special oil.
Chamishi Fifth Aliya - 19 p'sukim (29:19-37)
The intricate details of the seven-day ceremony for the Mishkan are presented. The Kohanim are required to eat the meat of the sin-offering and guilt-offering (Chatat and Asham). This command applies not only during the consecration ceremony, but is a mitzva for regular Temple service . Many of the procedures of thefirst week of offerings were "one-shot- deals". Other practices became standard operating procedure. Which is what is defined in the Oral Law.
Shishi Sixth Aliya - 9 p'sukim (29:38-46)
Daily procedures on the Altar are to include the sacrificing of two lambs as Burnt-Offerings, one in the morning and the second one in the late afternoon. These daily sacrifices are accompanied by flour and oil "mincha" and wine for libation. [This mitzva of the T'midim is mitzva 401 from Parshat Pinchas.]
It is not all that common that a mitzva is not counted the first time it is presented, but rather from a later text. It isn't unique either, but it is noteworthy.
In response to our consecration of the Kohanim, HaShem Himself will sanctify the Mishkan, the Altar, and the Kohanim. "And I will dwell among the People of Israel and be their G-d" (29:45). This pasuk is the companion of the pasuk that began the whole portion of Mikdash. In that opening verse, the idea of G-d living amongus, so to speak, and not merely in the Sanctuary that we construct for Him, is alluded to by the grammar of the word in the verse - B'TOCHAM. Here it is spelled out.
Rabbi Yaakov Auerbach z"l points out that the G'matriya of the whole pasuk is 2449. That is the year to Creation that the Mishkan was built.
After undertaking the construction of the Mishkan and everything involved with it, so to speak, we now have a clearer picture of things.
Sh'vi'i Seventh Aliya - 10 p'sukim (30:1-10)
The Incense Altar is to be constructed of acacia wood, 1 amah wide by 1 amah long, by 2 amot tall. It is to be plated with gold and adorned by a decorative border of gold. Two gold rings were attached to opposite edges for the carrying poles, themselves made of wood covered with gold. This Altar was placed in front of theParochet and was used primarily for the daily offering of incense  (and for part of the Yom Kippur Avoda), in the morning when the Menora was tended. Incense was offered towards evening too. No other use of the Golden Altar was permitted .
Interesting, that the Golden Altar is presented in T'TZAVEH and the Mizbach HaOlah in T'ruma. Logic says exactly the opposite. See anything?
MAFTIR - 3 p'sukim - D'varim 25:17-19
Parshat ZACHOR is arguably the only portion of the Torah the hearing of which (with Kavana) is the fulfillment of a mitzva from the Torah. The 3- pasuk portion contains the mitzvot to Remember what Amalek did, to destroy the remnant of Amalek from "under the heavens", and never to forget. The mitzva of Zachor and the prohibitionagainst forgetting apply to the many Amalek types that have risen against us throughout Jewish History.
Haftara 33 p'sukim - Shmuel Alef 15:2-34
(S'faradim begin one verse earlier) The Haftara consists of the command through the prophet Shmuel to King Shaul to destroy Amalek, and of Shaul's incomplete compliance with his orders. The Maftir tells us what we must do. The Haftara shows us what happens when it isn't done properly. Megilat Esther shows us what happens when it is done right. But the battlegoes on... until the time of Mashiach.