Parshas Tetzaveh

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

מחוץ לפרוכת אשר על העדת יערך אותו (פרק כז פסוק כא)

The Torah commands בני ישראל to donate olive oil for use in the משכן and explains that its purpose will be for the מנורה which is to be placed outside the curtain that is near the “testimony” (referring to the לוחות- the tablets with the Ten Commandments). The גמרא in שבת deduces from here that there is a testimony from the מנורה itself. The גמרא says that the נר מערבי- the light that remained lit in a miraculous way, was a testimony to all of mankind that the שכינה- the Divine Presence- rests in כלל ישראל. R’ Yitzchak Hutner asks, how is this a testimony to all of mankind- the מנורה was in the היכל where even a ישראל is not allowed to go, certainly no non-Jews would see the נר מערבי? He answered that the point of the miracle was so that we would internalize that the שכינה rests amongst us. If we can truly recognize and feel that we live with Hashem’s presence, then the rest of the world will see it in us. That is how the מנורה was a testimony to all of mankind- by us living and believing the message of the נר מערבי, the entire world would recognize that we are different, and we constantly exist with Hashem in our midst.

פתוחי חותם קודש לה’ (פרק כח פסוק לו)

The Torah instructs us how to make the ציץ- the forehead plate for the כהן גדול. It was a plate of pure gold with an engraving “קודש לה’”- Holy to Hashem. The חתם סופר explains why specifically the ציץ had this message written on it. He says that the ציץ was to atone for the sin of brazenness (which is usually associated with the forehead). In general, we pride ourselves on being ביישינים- humble and bashful people, who do not act brazenly and with chutzpah. We are instructed, though, to always have a certain level of brazenness so that we can stand up to those who argue against our faith. In fact, the גמרא in ביצה says that we are a brazen nation. Hashem gave us that gift so that we would not be swayed by those who mock us and attempt to veer us from the Torah’s path. This is the lone excuse for brazenness, but in all other areas and instances one should always act with בושה. This is why the ציץ, specifically, said קודש לה’, because the מדה that it represents is something that should be utilized exclusively for עבודת ה’.

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