Posted on March 17, 2014
Elyssa Steinberg- Tzafon USY
Shabbat Shalom! This week’s parsha, Tetzaveh, goes into detail about what the kohanim should wear, and about the sacrificial offering they perform. The first few verses give some detail to lighting the Ner Tamid, the eternal light. Then it goes into extensive detail about what the priests should be wearing, from material to coloring, and every detail in between. About halfway through the parsha, it switches gears to the procedure for the sacrificial offering, including what needs to be done beforehand and how it is carried out.
But let’s look at something that isn’t even in this parsha: Moshe. This is the only parsha in the last four books of the Torah that does not contain Moshe’s name. The reason for this is that when the people of Israel disobeyed G-d with the Golden Calf, Moshe said to G-d, “If You do not forgive them, erase me from the book that You have written.” From this, Moshe saved the Jewish people, but it cost him his name in the parsha as a punishment. Another explanation is that this parsha tends to fall around the 7th of Adar, which is Moshe’s yarzheit. Because of this, his absence from this parsha is symbolic of his absence from the world. Another reason given is that Moshe is stepping out of the spotlight so his brother, Aaron, can be given credit where needed and be appreciated for what he has done.
In the beginning of the parsha, there are only two verses spent talking about lighting the menorah. Two verses out of one hundred and one, less than two percent of the parsha. This isn’t the only time the Ner Tamid is mentioned, but this little part has a huge significance in Judaism. God commands “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually…it shall be a statute for ever throughout their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel” The olive oil has been a part of Jewish ritual since the days of the Torah, and often symbolizes peace in the Jewish world. But let’s focus on the light and the Ner Tamid. For thousands of years, the Ner Tamid has been burning above the ark in synagogues throughout the world. This emphasis on it has become a symbol of the connection between us, God and Israel, continuous and ever-lasting. We welcome in Shabbat every week by lighting candles. We also light candles to welcome in the Shalosh Regalim, the three major holidays in Judaism; Pesach, Sukkot and Shavuot. We light candles all eight nights of Hanukkah. We light them on a loved one’s yahrzeit, and on Yom Hashoah. Keeping this light burning is something that connects us to our religion continually. But that isn’t the only flame that should be kept burning. Some scholars suggest that the Ner Tamid is a symbol to remind us that when we study Torah and follow its mitzvot, we are making the world a brighter place. It reminds us that we should expand our knowledge continually, and keep the flame within all of us alive.
So keep that flame alive, and Shabbat Shalom.