Torah Portion Tetzaveh (Command ) Sh’mot (Exodus) 27-30
Haftorah Reading Ezekiel 43:10-27
This week we read a great deal about the clothes worn by the priests as they went about their functions in the Mishkan and later in the Temple. This Torah portion is always read on the Sabbath before Purim. Next week, will be Purim so we might ask what if anything do the two have to do with each other? I think one answer might be the clothes that are mentioned in the Torah portion and in the story of Purim. As I mentioned earlier, here in our portion we read of the clothes worn by the priest while in the book of Esther we read quite a bit about clothing as well. Clothing is important in many ways. It can identify someone with a certain role such as a police officer, a nun, or other jobs that require a certain uniform. Clothes can also be used to disguise a person, such as a mask or uniform used to gain entrance to a place where the person would not ordinarily be admitted.
In Hebrew the word for clothes is begged while the word for a deceiver is boged. This brings up a very important point for us. Many times we judge a person by the clothes they wear. This is not a reliable way for us to judge someone. It often prevents us from knowing the person wearing the clothes. As the word implies in Hebrew, we may be deceived and miss an opportunity to impact someone’s life because of our first impression based just on what our eyes can see. As you read the book of Esther this week, look for those cases where clothing is mentioned and what they were to convey about the person wearing them.
Another Hebrew word that I would like to draw your attention to this week is the word for hard work. In Hebrew it is avodah. This word also has several other meanings that should give us a clearer picture of how we are to worship G-d in our daily life. Other than work this word can also mean worship. You might ask what do the two have in common? I think often we compartmentalize our lives. We “work” at our job and we “attend” worship on certain days or times of the week. When we go to our job we expect to put in 8 hours of work but sometimes when we go to worship we don’t think of participating in worship we may be going to receive worship and not participate in it actively. We may not consider the fact that we should be going to a bible study or congregational meeting prepared and ready to worship instead of sitting passively waiting to receive. If you think Hebraicly you would be able to see how worship, like work, is not passive, it is something that touches every area of our lives.
I would like to give you an example I read this week that might help understand what it means to have our life infused with worship. This example has to do with a profession but it is entirely relatable to our spiritual life. I think we all have heard of and are familiar with Beethoven, the great German composer. His days began at 5 am each morning with coffee. He would count out exactly 60 coffee beans, no more no less and grind them and fix his coffee. He then sat at his desk and worked on his latest composition until 2 pm. At that hour he would take a long walk taking with him a pencil and paper to record any ideas that came to him on the way. Each evening after dinner he would have a beer, smoke a pipe and go to bed no later than 10 pm. You may be asking what does this have to do with anything? The point is Beethoven had to work at being one of the greatest composers in history. Everyday he had a pattern to his day and that pattern gave him a framework to think and write his music.
When we read this Torah portion we see where G-d instructed Moshe to set up a pattern, a routine. In Exodus 29:38 we read of an example of G-d giving the Israelites a routine, offer a lamb each morning and a lamb each evening. Everyday of every year this was to be done. This routine set a pattern for the people. After awhile the pattern became a habit. A habit gives us the opportunity to meet G-d each day when we are still and quiet before Him. This is what worship is. It is actively making time to worship our Creator. We put an effort into meeting the Father.
Often we find ourselves looking for the big events in our spiritual walk. However, if we do not refine those events with work they will fade from our spiritual life and become only a memory. Worship is work. My prayer for us is that everyday we work at it, setting a time and schedule to work on our relationship with the Father.
My question of the week was why does G-d tell Moshe to command the people to bring oil (Ex. 27:20) and last week He said for those with a willing heart to give in the building of the Mishkan (Ex. 25:2)? I think this is a great picture of our spiritual journey. We come to the Father willingly, answering His call to us and making a covenant with Him. However, once we have made that decision, there are requirements, our part of that Covenant to be kept. G-d expects, commands that our lives be different now. We are commanded to be a light and that light is never to end until He calls us home.