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Tetzaveh ~ 5773 ~ תצוה Shabbat Zachor
The Parashah opens with the commandment to use pure olive oil in lighting the Menorah. Aaron and his four sons were selected to be the Kohanim. The basic garments of a Kohain consisted of a turban, shirt, pants, and belt. The Kohain Gadol wore four additional garments: the Me’ill (a long outer robe); the Ayphod (a quilted vest or bibbed apron); the Choshen (jeweled breastplate); and the Tzitz (an engraved, golden, forehead plate). The quilted vest is described along with the two Shoham stones. These were engraved with the names of the 12 Tribes and set on the shoulders of the Kohain Gadol. The cloth settings for the Shoham stones are described along with the jeweled breastplate. The method of fastening the breastplate to the quilted vest is explained. The breastplate was a quilted garment set with 12 stones, each engraved with the name of a Tribe.
The long outer robe is described. The hem of this garment was edged with small bells intended to announce the presence of the Kohain Gadol as he walked through the Bait Hamikdash. (From this, the Gemara derives that a husband, prior to entering his own home, out of respect for his wife, should announce his arrival by first knocking on the door.) The engraved, golden, forehead plate and the Kohain Gadol’s turban are described, along with the four basic garments worn by all Kohanim. All the garments were hand made of the finest white linen. The special vestments of the Kohain Gadol were woven from a special thread spun from five different colored threads, including a thread made of pure gold.
The seven day ceremony consecrating the Kohanim into their priestly service is detailed along with the consecration of the Mizbeach – Altar.
The last vessel to be described is the inner, golden Altar, used to burn the daily incense offering. This offering, as well as the daily preparation for the lighting of the Menorah, could only be performed by the Kohain Gadol. The special mixture of incense called the Kitoret, could only be formulated for this purpose. (The renowned biblical archeologist, Vendell Jones, claims to have unearthed a hidden cache containing 600 kilos of the Kitoret, buried before the first Bais Hamikdash was destroyed.)
MAFTIR Deuteronomy 25:17 – 19 ~ page 856
HAFTORAH Shabbat Zachor, I Samuel 15:1-34 ~ page 995
Saul carries out Samuel’s instructions to exterminate the wicked Amalekites but spares the life of their King Agag (from whom Haman was descended). Samuel goes to meet Saul at Gilgal denounces him for disobeying G-d’s word, and executes Agag.
Purim Holiday Questions
1. Mordechai is defined as both “Eish Yemini, “a Benjaminite, and an “Eish Yehudi,” a Judahite. Which was it? Which personality traits expressed in the story substantiate both?
2. Why does Esther think that she will only be able to change the mind of the king at a wine party?
3. Why is Haman made to belittle himself while leading the horse of Mordechai, as commanded by the king?
4. If acting irresponsibly to the point of endangering one’s life is forbidden, why do we consider Esther heroic for approaching the King without an invitation (punishable by death)?
5. Which of the four mitzvot of Purim can be fulfilled alone?