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Parsha for the Week of March 11th, 2017

Tetzaveh – “You Shall Command”

Exodus 27:20–30:10



Last week’s Torah portion explained that G-d had asked for a donation (terumah) from the people for the sake of creating a portable, tent-like sanctuary called the Tabernacle. G-d then showed Moses the pattern according to which the Tabernacle and its furnishings were to be made. First the Ark of the Covenant (and its cover called the kapporet) would occupy an inner chamber called the Holy of Holies. Within an adjoining chamber (called the Holy place) a Table would hold twelve loaves of matzah and a seven-branched Menorah would illuminate the tent. G-d gave precise dimensions of the tent with the added instruction to separate the Holy of Holies by a veil called the parochet. The entire tent was to have a wooden frame covered by colored fabric and the hide of rams and goats. Outside the tent an outer court was defined that would include a copper sacrificial altar and water basin. The outer court was to be enclosed by a fence made with fin linen on silver poles with hooks of silver and sockets of brass.

This week’s Torah portion continues the description of the Tabernacle, though the focus shifts to those who will serve within it, namely the priests of Israel. First Moses was instructed to tell the Israelites to bring pure olive oil for the lamps of the Menorah, which the priests were to kindle every evening in the Holy Place. Next G-d commanded Moses to ordain Aaron and his sons as priests and described the priestly garments they would wear while serving in the Tabernacle.

All priests were to wear four garments – linen breeches, tunics, sashes, and turbans, but in addition to these the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) was to wear a blue robe decorated with pomegranates and golden bells. Over this robe, an ephod – an apron woven of gold, blue purple, and crimson – was to be worn, and upon the ephod was attached a breastplate inlaid with precious stones inscribed with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. Finally, the High Priest would wear a golden plate engraved with the words “Holy to the L-rd” up the front of his turban.

The priests were to be ordained in a special seven-day ceremony that involved washing, dressing, and anointing them with oil and blood, followed by the offering of sacrifices. The priests were further instructed to present burnt offerings twice a day upon the copper altar. The portion ends with a description of the Golden Altar upon which incense was offered twice a day by the priests when the Menorah lamps were serviced. In addition, the blood of atonement was to be placed on its corners once a year, during the Yom Kippur ritual.

Synoposis taken from www.hebrew4christians.com