Parshah Tetzaveh

Parshah Tetzaveh

In this week’s Torah portion, we are given more specific instructions on the construction and wearing of the priestly vestments, the different pieces that go into the “uniform” that the Kohanim and the Kohen Gadol, the priests and the High Priest, must wear when serving in the Sanctuary. They are pretty fancy too! Gold and turquoise thread; robes; sashes; an apron of blue, purple, and red dyed wool; even a turban!

These directions, like the ones last week, teach us some important lessons.
We notice that in the detailed instructions in creating the vestments the exact same message that Hashem was giving us last week: tools that are used in service of Hashem are unified. Just like last week where we see the man parts of the Mishkan that are united to form “one”, the pieces of the priests vestments are bound together to create “one” piece. Hashem is reenforcing this concept of one-ness, through theology, psychology, and even physicality. Even the tools we use to glorify and communicate with G-d are varied items that are united to create a whole. Take the Breastplate of Judgement, the choshen, on which there are twelve different stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel.
Each is unique and beautiful, and they are placed together as one! Only through unity can we fully serve G-d. That doesn’t been being the same! Oh, no! Each stone is special, but together they served as a channel through which hashem communicated with the people.
Coming out if Mitzrayim, out of Egypt, the Israelites were more of a loose band of tribes than a untied people. G-d is using this opportunity to forge one people form the many tribes, and to create a nation that will declare Hashem’s one-ness to the world.

In the creation of all of the materials for the vestments, we see that everything that is used is donated by the Israelites. Everything! Here is a people, come out of slavery, who have all of these nice things. They left a land of oppression with wealth, finally, and now are told to give it up. G-d is saying to them, “I bet you thought that you were wealthy now that you had all this gold and cloth and stuff from the Egyptians. Guess what? That’s not what real wealth is. I will show you what real wealth is.” Hashem is able to sanctify the things that were brought out of Egypt and rededicate them to a higher purpose, the same way Hashem rededicates the Israelites.
Plus, this is a community building exercise.
Imagine it, an unknown Israelite standing in front of the Mishkan, looking at the tents and watching the priests perform their duties. He turns to his neighbor, nudging him in the ribs with his elbow, and says, “Hey, see that purple cloth he’s wearing? I donated some of that!”
All of the people were able to see the things they gave to G-d being used! They were bound together, watching their gifts serving their intended purpose. How great is that?

Ultimately, we see that in Tetzaveh, G-d is communicating the concept of one-ness physically, by creating an identity through a special uniform, by asking the Israelites to donate to a common cause for use in the community and to rededicate their belongings and themselves to a higher purpose, and visually, by displaying the abstract concept of uniting many to create a “one” (like on the Breastplate of Judgement), celebrating individuality while still being united. I invite you to celebrate your neighbor’s unique-ness while honoring their place within the human family and the good that they have contributed to repairing and sanctifying the world.

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