TETZAVEH (you will command)

Lighting the Menorah

Question: What is different about this Torah portion? This is the only portion in the Torah since Moses’ birth in which Moses’ name does not appear (with the exception of the book of Deuteronomy, which consists wholly of a first-person narrative spoken by Moses). The reason for this is that, [when the people of Israel sinned with the Golden Calf, Moses returned to יהוה and said, This people have sinned a great sin and have made them gods of gold. Even now, if you will forgive their sin and if not, blot me, please, out of your book which you have written. And יהוה said to Moses, whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot out of My book (Exodus 32:31-33). Moses was prepared to forgo mention of his name in the Torah for the sake of his people. This was realized in this portion of scripture, since the reprimand of a righteous person, even if made conditional on an unfulfilled stipulation, always has some effect. Chumash

Question: What does this Torah portion deal with? This Torah portion deals with the Kohanim, their selection, their garments, and the inauguration service by which they and their offspring would become confirmed for all time as the special ministers of יהוה. Chumash

Exodus 27:20 וְאַתָּה And you will command אֶת־ Children of Israel that they bring you pure olive oil beaten for the light, so that the lamp will burn continuously. 21 In the Tabernacle of the Congregation outside the veil, which is in front of the testimony, shall order אֹתֹו it (him), Aaron and his sons will keep it burning from evening to morning before יהוה: it will be a statute forever to their generations מֵאֵת from the Children of Israel. C-MATS

Question: What does the word “command” mean in this verse? The word tetzaveh, “to command”, also means “to connect” and “to bond”. Thus the verse can also be read as יהוה saying to Moses: “And you shall bond with the Children of Israel”. For every Hebrew soul has at its core a spark of the soul of Moses, and we should bond with those who walk in the ways of יהוה. Chumash

Question: How was the oil for the Menorah made? The oil was made by pressing each olive gently until only one drop of pure oil emerged. Afterwards, the olives could be crushed and the remaining oil used for meal–offerings. Chumash

Question: What do the pressed (crushed) olives symbolize? Just as the olive yields light only when it is pounded, so are man’s greatest potentials realized only under the pressure of adversity. Chumash

Question: How can we crush others to bring light? When one speaks crushing words of rebuke, it must be with the sole purpose of enlightening, illuminating, and uplifting one’s fellow brother. Never humiliate and break a fellow-brother. Chumash