I dedicate this parsha post l’lui nishmas Rut bas Sarah, a woman known for her generosity, chessed, and warmest consideration of each individual she encountered.


Parshas Tetzaveh… and yet more chapters to follow brimming with most intricate details of the workings and crafts of the holy Mishkan (Tabernacle), a home and resting place for G-d in the barren wilderness, a physical manifestation of what we continue to sustain in a spiritual microcosm today.

The Menorah and finely-crushed oil for fuel; the richly fabricated vestments of the Kohanim; korbanos of savory aroma rising to the very heavens in a pillar of smoke; all these elements and much more are enumerated in this parsha, near concluding a brilliant blueprint for a rendezvous for heaven and earth, where human creativity and delight was entirely suffused with Divine purpose, a palace of glory for the King.

After Hashem instructed Moshe concerning the rituals involved in sanctifying and initiating the Kohanim into their holy avoda (service), which included an offering, the altar is ascended yet again with a new korban, listed in the fifth portion:

“Ufar chatas ta’aseh layom al-hakipurim v’chiteisa al-hamizbei’ach b’chapercha alav umashachta oso l’kadsho – And a bull as a sin offering you shall offer up every day for the atonements, and you shall purify the altar by performing atonement upon it, and you shall anoint it, in order to sanctify it.”  {Shemos 29:36}

You might wonder what in particular caused a korban-chatas (sin-offering) to be required.  Fortunately Rashi, “Supercommentator” on the Torah, illuminates us.  In a simple light, he explains that it served “al-hakipurim – for the atonements,” meaning to make kaparah for any foreign or detestable offenses with the altar.  On a deeper level, he also draws down from the Midrash in Torat Kohanim, that this offering presented on the mizbeiach would compensate for the possibility of a stolen item donated and unwittingly utilized in the construction of the Mishkan as a whole.

Similar to how the use of an iron implement – a symbol of destruction and enmity – invalidated the mizbeiach – representative of peace and longevity – in its creation, a purloined good surely compromised the enduring holiness and Emes (truth) of the House of Hashem.

A reflection of my own on this Torah-jewel:

Today, when the privilege and responsibility of maintaining the Bais haMikdash is temporarily removed from our hands, our very own homes have been transformed into mini-Mikdashim.  (I was very inspired by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky’s powerful words at the Kinus HaShluchos 5778/2018, comparing the trademarks of a Torah home to the practices and vessels of the Holy Temple, as he urged the Shluchos from across the world to persevere in their astounding work and continue to touch the lives of other Jews, especially through the Jewish home.)  In our homes, our tables are likened to the Mizbeiach.  If, via the altar, correction could be effectuated (for the possibility of having used stolen items), and it would establish kaparah for the entire Mishkan, then how it must be so at our own tables!  If there is G-dliness and harmony, love and respect at the table, where we really offer all we have to give, it will naturally extend to all other areas of the home and its life, and heal whatever needs to be mended.  Tremendous power and potential rest waiting to be unleashed within every fiber of the table’s structure, every morsel of the meal, every pulse of every heart and every spark of every soul of those seated around and partaking of it.

After learning this and meditating for a few moments on it, I resolved to, with Hashem help, invest more care and concern into doing my part at the table to ensure peace, joy, and good connection.  We see for ourselves and can assess how differing family table-scenes play out.  Sadly, there are tables that run cold and silent, perhaps as all those present stare down at electronic devices or social media.  By contrast, there are tables which burst with life, love, warmth and laughter, and probably a few spills, but always goodwill to counterbalance the more chaotic moments.  (The latter reminds me of a Talmudic story my teacher once told me – written up by R’ Tuvia Bolton – after she had read it online.  It discussed a perplexing ‘blessing’ the Rashbi’s son had received, of “May your table be a mess!”  Indeed, it was a blessing, albeit a hidden one… that his table be cast into disorder by many offspring; a nachas-factory and true joy!)  It is very likely that whatever mood courses around the table at mealtimes is reflected in the family’s relationship and daily life in general.  Which sounds to you more welcoming to G-d?  What do you desire for your mini-Mikdash to look like, feel like, sound like, run like?  They are very significant points indeed to consider.

After all, your table is one of those sacred places where heaven meets earth.


The Messenger Bird