This weekend we study the Torah portion Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10. God instructs Moses to appoint his brother Aaron and his sons as priests of the Mishkan, the traveling Temple; God also instructs Moses on the manufacture of the vestments of the priests. “…you shall instruct all who are skillful, who I have endowed with the gift of skill,” (Ex. 27.3) to make the priestly vestments. The kinds of things that God instructs to be placed on the vestments include the color of the yarns, the fabric they are made of, the gems that are set on the vestments, and how each portion of the vestments-breast-piece, headdress, sashes-were to be made, along with how the priests were to be anointed in the consecration ceremony.
To me, this is compatible to the construction of the Mishkan in last week’s Torah portion, Terumah; just as the details of the making of the Mishkan shows the presence of God in the community, so the making of the vestments of the priest, who embodies each individual Jew, shows the presence of God for each person in their daily lives.
we studied the Torah portion Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19. God outlines to Moses
the plans for the construction of the Mishkan,
the traveling tabernacle the Israelites carried while in the wilderness. God,
the Ruler of the Universe, dictates the elements of the construction of the Mishkan-the
cloth it’s made of, the setting of the jewelry, the fixing of the poles for
setting up. This shows God intervening in the concrete affairs of humans.
requires the efforts of the entire community and its skills-stonemasons,
carpenters, weavers, tailors, etc.; in fact, it symbolized and embodied the
community, showing that each person, and each class in the community, has a
role to play in the community’s development.
This weekend we have studied the Torah portion Bo, Exodus 10.1-13:16. In this portion, Moses and Aaron continue to approach Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt to worship their God; but each time, Pharaoh refuses to allow it, no matter how severe the plague is on his nation and his people. God, through His prophet Moses, inflicts further plagues on Egypt-Locusts and Darkness. Pharaoh’s own courtiers plead with the king to give in, or the nation would be destroyed. But Pharaoh, still believing himself to be a god-despots develop big egos-refuses to budge, and does not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt.
Then finally, there is the final plague, the Death of the First-Born, from the children pf Pharaoh to the children of the slave girls. Pharaoh’s will is finally broken, and he begs Moses to take the Israelite out of Egypt. the great thing is, Moses, once a prince of Egypt, was still respected in the court, and the Egyptians looked favorably upon the Israelites. The Egyptians, like all lower-class people, suffer from the stupidity and egotism of their rulers. In the portion is the beginning of the holiday Peach, the commemoration of the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery, with the origins of the Seder; and of the redeeming of the first-born.