Tetzavah

  1. Continuing the theme of the mishkan being within us – what are the Kohanim? In this image, they represent the characters within our personality. There’s a key phrase – the Kohanim come from among bnei Yisrael to Kahano Li – to Kohen to me (G-d). It is a role of service to Hashem – not towards the Jewish people. You could see the Kohanim has heavenly flight attendants. They serve Hashem and they represent us. They work for the airline [the Jewish people] – but they dress up for the passenger.
  2. If we look at the previous parsha, we can see the meanings of fabrics and materials. Wood is life. Gold is timelessness. The fabrics of the clothes have the same materials as the screens, but one item is added. That one added item is gold. Perhaps the gold is needed to emphasize that the role of the Kohen is timeless especially because the Kohen is not.
  3. The Kohen’s garments have metal bells and pomegranates. In the mishkan, everything is carefully regulated. But a human can’t regulate the ringing of bells. The pattern of ringing is entirely determined by Hashem. Sound and hearing are the core senses of connection to Hashem. It is only fitting that the bells are a reminder of the limits of human power and the particular heavenly importance of hearing.
  4. These are the instructions for sanctifying the Kohanim. We see the process of offerings to sanctify them – but more importantly we see that we undertake this process. Later, it switches.
  5. The second ram gets the most attention here as a sign of eternal atonement placed on the clothes and right thumbs etc… of the Kohanim. Perhaps this connects to the original ram, which substituted for Yitzchak. The giving of the Ram might indicate a substitution for the Kohen himself – a sign of eternal atonement by symbolically sacrificing oneself to Hashem. The right hand emphasizes the hand of action – action enhanced with the blood (and thus spirit) of the physically perfect animal converted into its maximum spiritual value.
  6. In this sixth reading, we see Hashem saying that He will sanctify the Kohen to kohen him. In the first reading, Moshe was bringing them close to kohen Hashem. In the fourth reading, we were bringing offerings to sanctify them. Here we can see there is actually a bridging at work – we take the step of reaching out to Hashem and directing our character to serve him and he will reciprocate to seal the deal.
  7. We end with the offering of incense. If we look at the senses, we’ve addressed sound (the bells) and vision (the garments and screens etc…) – the two senses that guide us from afar. The last remaining sense is smell. It is in many ways the most fundamental of the senses – but it almost the hardest to control. It is animalistic. Perhaps that is why it comes with a special reminder not to bring ‘alien’ incense – the risk of our animal desires finding expression in Hashem’s home must be avoided. It might be offered on acacia wood to reinforce the nation of bending our urges (including hatred) to serve Hashem.

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