Points to Ponder

Tetzaveh 5776

And you should take for yourself pure, pressed olive oil for illumination to kindle an eternal lamp (27:20)-  The Parsha deals primarily with the Bigdei Kehuna and the Miluim, why is this section printed here? What does this have to do with the inauguration of the Kohanim? Rav Belsky ztl. explained that Aharon did not light the menorah as an emissary of Hashem. He did it as a kohein on behalf of himself. This is seen by virtue of the fact that he received this Mitzvah BEFORE he was inaugurated as an emissary of Hashem. The merit was due to Aharon’s inherent Kedusha not because of the Shlichus. It is listed here in order to show that the right to light the menorah was the Kohein’s inherently  -- not as part of the job.

Bigdei Kehuna  - The Rambam writes that the Kohein Hedyot needed to remove the Avnet as soon as he was done with the Avodah since it had Shatnez. The Kohein Gadol was not so instructed. Why the difference? The Beis HaLevi explains that that the Kohein Gadol who is wearing his Tzitz helps make Korbanos offered B’tumah ok. And since for a Kohein Gadol, each of the garments are connected so we want him to be wearing all of the garments all day long. Rav Schachter Shlita pointed out that the Tosafos disagree and note that it is only the Tzitz that he needs to wear to be miratzeh. Rav Schachter added that Rav Soloveitchik ztl notes that there is a special mitzvah for the Kohein Gadol to be in the Beis HaMikdash and that in order to be there, he needed to be in the Begadim – thus, he had no instruction to remove the Avnet.

And Aharon shall bear the names of Bnei Yisrael on the the Choshen on his heart (28:29) – Why the stress on the heart?  In fact it is repeated twice in the possuk? The Rambam (Hil. Melachim 3:6) notes that the Choshen can only be put onto the person whose heart is the heart of Klal Yisrael. Rav Neriah ztl. explains that the heart was critical to determining if the Urim V’Tumim would be powered up – only the Kohein Gadol whose heart was not his own – was one who felt the pain and the energy, the emotions of the people – and only wanted the best for all of them – to him the Urim V’Tumim functioned. Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi Shlita added that a heart is not something that carries a Begged. Thus, the mention of the heart is because it is what made the Begged work. It carried not the Begged but rather the names and the mission of the People.

And it will be on Aharon when he serves so that he will be heard when he enters the kodesh and when he leaves and he shall not die (28:35) – While one could understand why he would be needed to be heard on arrival, why was it crucial that he be heard B’Tzaiso – when he left? Rav Schlessinger Shlita quotes the Yalkut Shimoni which tells the story of Rabbi Chaninah Ben Chachinai who left his wife for 13 years to study Torah from Rabbi Akiva. When he went home to help find a Shidduch for his daughter, he happened upon his wife and she fainted and died. He davened and brought her back to life. The gemara (Kesubos 62b) tells us that Rav Chana Bar Bisna sent a message ahead of his impending arrival in order not to be like Rav Chanina. Now, while Rav Chanina did not want the interruptions of his studies with mundane matters, both Rav Chama and Rav Shimon Bar Yochai understood that they needed to think about their families too. Rav Schlessinger explains that this is the secret of the bells on the Me’il: They were to remind the Kohein Gadol that when he went into the kodesh and when he came out, he was to think about the needs of the people no matter how seemingly mundane they seemed – even though while inside he was like a malach.

And you shall dress them (28:41) – Why must Moshe Rabbeinu specifically, dress the Kohanim? Why is he working like a slave? Rav  Moshe Feinstein ztl. explained that only Moshe Rabbeinu could create the necessary Kedusha to sanctify the Kohanim as only he was representative of the people – like a Sanhedrin of 71.

If there shall be anything left from the Milum and the bread by morning then the Nosar shall be burned (29:34) – Generally the Torah first notes that there is a prohibition against keeping Nosar followed by the fact that Nosar needs to be burned. Why is the prohibition left out this time? Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl Shlita explained that in regard to the Milum, it was only Aharon and his sons who would need to consume ALL of the Korbanos. It would be difficult for so much to be consumed by such a small group and so, the Torah does not note a Lav – only the requirement to burn it.

And you shall make a Mizbeiach for ketores (30:1) – Ramban explains that technically the Mizbach HaKetores belonged in Parshas Terumah with the other Keilim like the menorah and the Shulchan. The reason it is mentioned here is that it is the secret to bringing Kedusha to Hashem. This is the basis for the secret of ketores in stopping the mageifa of death – it is the source for kavod.  Rav Wolbe ztl. explains that Rekanti says this is due to the fact that Ketores is the combination of din and Rachamim. Rav Wolbe added that it is like what happens when students are not prepared for Shiur beyond Gemara Rashi and Tosafos. The Rebbe is not obligated to offer more. But when one considers that by offering more, the students will be inspired to ascend greater heights – the Rachmanus leads the Rebbe to strive for more. Ketores is thus, a taste to inspire the people  -- even at their weakest – to strive a bit more for there is more good to be had.


Haftorah: You, Son of man, describe the House to the House of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; let them measure its plan (Yechezkel  43:10) – Rav Yigal Ariel Shlita notes that the building plans of the future Beis HaMikdash, just like the ones before it, were quite grand in scope and beauty. The ability to learn great spiritual secrets from all of the details is present for those who seek it. However, the Mikdash represents the ideal Jewish nation at its ideal functioning. When the Mikdash is in ruin, it is a direct result of our sins – and a rallying point for Cheshbon HaNefesh and collective Teshuva to look to the plan and realize that it is in our hands to execute it and bring the geulah.