Torah Portion: Tetzaveh (You are to Order) Exodus 27-30
HafTorah: Ezekiel; 43:10-27
I would like us to look at those things that G-d commanded to be made for Aaron, the High Priest, and his sons, to be used in the service of G-d in the Mishkan (tabernacle). We also read of the oil to be used in the Holy Menorah that stood in the Mishkan.
Let’s start with something made for the High Priest., the robe which was made of pure blue material. In Hebrew the word used here for blue is “techellet.” It is the same color used for the blue thread in Tzitzit or fringes. It is a light, sky blue color. Every time Aaron went in to the presence of G-d he was to wear this robe. The only time he did not wear it was Yom Kippur. I would like to talk about this robe and use it as a starting place for looking at a common sin that we all face each day.
To do this I would like to use a Talmudic reference. In the Talmud it says that this color resembles the Throne of Glory. It further states that the sin of lashon harah (gossip or literally bad tongue), was atoned for by Aaron wearing this robe before G-d. This was to emphasize the severity of this sin. Lashon harah is translated usually as gossip. I looked up verses about gossip today and there are over 50 verses in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Some examples are; Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 6:16-19, James 1:26, Titus 3:2, Exodus 23:1, and Proverbs 64:2-4. These are only a few.
So it is easy to see that G-d takes this very seriously. Why, maybe because it is one of the most difficult sins to avoid. Sometimes it may be necessary to warn someone of danger. How do we know when it may be permissible? Generally if we derive pleasure from speaking negatively about others we have crossed the line.
It seems the root of gossip may be two pronged. First, it provides the teller with an artificial boost in their self worth. Why, we often see ourselves in relation to others. So by criticizing them we see ourselves in a more favorable light. In the short term, it can help the gossiper feel better. The problem is that we usually only criticize others about a flaw that we possess. Problem is that in a short time our own issue returns to the top and we embark on more gossip.
So how do we cope with this? For sure prayer helps us to bridle our tongue. Also, when we find ourselves involved in gossip, and we will know. We should do a self accounting or, hesbon hanefesh in Hebrew, to find the source of what is tripping us up. Very often it is a lack of self worth. If this is the case, it is really a problem we have and one we must work on in our own life by identifying areas where we feel deficient and work toward dealing with it in a proper way. We have to take an active role in working through those things that trip us up so easily.
Another area that speaks to us spiritually in this section is found in the first couple of verses of this Torah portion, “The oil of the soul, crushed pure olive oil for the luminary.” Exodus 27:20. Based on the connection with light that comes from the menorah, I think we can look at it as a spiritual picture of our inner self, our soul. The New Testament says we are to be a light to the world. (Matt. 5:14) However, to give light this verse says it takes, “crushed olives.” Not too hard to see the connection. For us to shine in this world it often takes crushing. G-d allows crushing in our lives to give us the opportunity for growth and endurance, by which we can be the light that illuminates. Such is the thought of Matthew 5:14. We are to be light. To be light takes crushing, which brings growth, wisdom and spiritual maturity.
Another interesting thing in this verse is the first word, “Tetzaveh.” Here it is translated as command. An alternate translation is connect. G-d could be saying to Moses and to each of us, connect this world to the light. Go out into the darkness and bring light. It will not be easy but it is the only way for those of us who follow “The Way.”
Lastly let me just say a word about the golden bells on the hem of the robe worn by the High Priest in verse 28:35. In Hebrew it says he is to wear these bells as he goes into the Presence of the L-rd. Why did he have to announce his coming? I’m pretty sure G-d knew it. May I present a reason that speaks to me. I think it was done out of respect for G-d. Aaron did not presume to just burst in. He announced His coming by the bells. The whole idea is respect, which speaks to me today. G-d is due our respect and honor. He is not to be taken for granted but is to be looked at and related to with a sense of awe. We are not going into His presence without preparation, getting spiritually prepared and physically prepared. He is the Creator of the universe. He deserves our best in every respect as He deserved Aarons.