February 19-20, 2016 – 11 Adar 1 5776
Annual (Exodus 27:20-30:10): EtzHayim p. 503; Hertz p. 339
Triennial (Exodus 29:19-30:10): EtzHayim p. 513; Hertz p. 346
Haftarah (Ezekiel 43:10-27): EtzHayim, p. 520; Hertz p. 350
Welcome to the new “Torah Sparks” direct from the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem! The CY’s beautiful Beit Midrash is full of students learning Jewish texts and enhancing their relationships with Jewish prayer and the Jewish community. Torah Sparks brings you a taste of their enthusiasm for Judaism and Jewish text from Jerusalem every week.
לְפָנַי תָּמִיד – Before Me Tamid
By Rabbi Joel Levy, CY Rosh Yeshiva
After the Exodus from Egypt and the glories of the revelation at Mount Sinai come five shockingly technical parshiot dealing largely with the building of the Mishkan or tabernacle in the desert and its many appurtenances. What motivates the Torah to shift so suddenly from breath-taking narrative to numbing technicality? What is the connection between the stunning experience of God on The Mountain and the minute details of the Mishkan?
One possible answer emerges from a keyword that appears for the very first time in the Torah in ParashatTerumah, last week, and which then floods ParashatTetsaveh with another seven appearances. The word “tamid” (always) appears first in Exodus Chapter 25 with reference to the showbread in the Mishkan:
ל וְנָתַתָּ עַל-הַשֻּׁלְחָןלֶחֶם פָּנִים, לְפָנַי תָּמִיד.
30 And you shall set upon the table showbread before Me always.
Then in our parasha “tamid” recurs in chapters 27, 28 and 29 with reference (respectively) to the perpetually burning oil lamp in the Mishkan, the habitual clothing of the priests and the regularly offered sacrifices:
כ וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה אֶת-בְּנֵייִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶןזַיִתזָךְ כָּתִית–לַמָּאוֹר: לְהַעֲלֹתנֵר, תָּמִיד.
20 And you shall command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn always.
כט וְנָשָׂא אַהֲרֹןאֶת-שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּחֹשֶׁן הַמִּשְׁפָּט, עַל-לִבּוֹ–בְּבֹאוֹ אֶל-הַקֹּדֶשׁ: לְזִכָּרֹןלִפְנֵי-יְהוָה, תָּמִיד.
29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goes in to the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD always.
לח וְזֶה, אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ: כְּבָשִׂים בְּנֵי-שָׁנָה שְׁנַיִםלַיּוֹם, תָּמִיד.
38 Now this is that which you shall offer upon the altar: two lambs of the first year day by day always.
“Tamid” (always) does not mean “forever”; that these practices will never cease. “Tamid” refers instead to a practice that is performed regularly or continually. I have opted to preserve the repeated Hebrew word “tamid” by translating it in each instance as “always”, but a better translation might have been “continually”, “regularly”, “constantly” or “perpetually”.
There are important differences between things that are perpetual and those that are regular. This is a difference that the rabbis of the Talmud pick up and debate beautifully in MasechetMenachot (99b). For our purposes it is enough to observe that the Torah is not emphasizing here that the rites of the Mishkan will last forever but rather that they will be performed repeatedly, regularly or continually.
In these parshiot the Torah bridges the gap between the one-off event of the Revelation at Sinai and the human need for rites and practices that preserve such a unique moment through constancy and repetition. Supreme moments of revelatory clarity need to be translated into a regular matrix of memorializing cultural forms. Our individual and communal lives contain peak moments, one-off events, but for those events to be nourishing over time they need to be preserved, normalized and regularized. Sinai was a sprint, but life, if we are lucky, is a marathon. The quality of “Hatmadah”, loyal constancy and regularity over time, is much treasured in the yeshiva world in relation to prayer and learning. It is a quality that we should seek to develop in the world of liberal Judaism too.
A Vort for Parashat Tetsaveh
By Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb, CY Faculty
The lamp in the Tabernacle is to be set up “in the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain – b’ohel mo’ed m’chuts l’parochet” (27:21). Yosef Patchnovsky (1875-1942, Poland), in his commentary Pardes Yosef, wrote that every Jew should have an eternal lamp, ner tamid, lit in his/her heart, the light of which should be seen not only b’ohel mo’ed, in the synagogue during times of tefilla and in the beit midrash during the study of Torah, but also m’chuts l’parochet, outside the walls, in the street, the market, the workplace, in daily secular affairs and in the relations within the family and community.
By Vered Hollander-Goldfarb, CY Faculty
What is a Mishkan (Tabernacle) without Kohanim (priests) to work in it? In this Parasha we receive the instructions for their garments and for the ceremony to turn them into Kohanim (this is the plural form of Kohen). Visual aids might be helpful: I suggest looking up images for ‘the priestly garments’ on the internet to help you with the learning.
1) We open with instructions to the people to bring olive oil. What is it used for, and when was it used? Why do you think that there was an instruction to always have the light on?
2) The Kohanim have special garments. In general, what is the purpose of garments that are identified with a job or a position? What is the purpose of the garments of the Kohanim according to 28:2?
3) Aaron the Kohen Gadol (high priest) has special garments, even among the other Kohanim. On his shoulders are 2 precious stones (28:9-12). What is written on them? Why are they placed on Aaron’s shoulders? What might it suggest about the role of the Kohen Gadol?
4) As part of his special garments Aaron will wear a gold plate on his forehead (28:36-39). What is inscribed on the gold plate? What might that suggest about the role of the Kohen Gadol? How compatible is that with the role we saw in the previous question?
5) In order for Aaron and his sons to become Kohanim, they have to go through an extensive ceremony, the instructions for which are found in chapter 29. How long is this ceremony good for according to 29:9?