Torah: Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10) Haftarah:(Ezekiel 43:10-27)
The Torah portion continues the description of the Tabernacle begun in the preceding portion. It includes commandments to create a ner tamid (eternal lamp) above the sanctuary ark. Aaron and his sons are appointed priests to manage the sacrifices offered in the sanctuary, a description of the priestly clothing, including the ephod, breastplate, robe, fringe tunic, headdress, and sash. Aaron’s ceremony of ordination as a priest, along with instructions for the slaughtering of offerings. The portion concludes with directions for building an altar for burning incense before the ark.
Our congregation does not have a sanctuary, however it has an ark with Torahs, however no ner tamid over the ark. I will drash on the ner tamid.
Many commentators believe that the origin of the is the opening lines in the Torah portion: “You shall command the Israelites to bring pure oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually” (Exodus 27:20). The sages saw the light that burned perpetually in the tabernacle as a symbol of Israel, which was to be a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:7). Today the ner tamid continues to hang in the synagogue before the holy ark, symbolizing the permanence of the Torah and the radiance of the Jewish faith, which like the ner tamid is eternal.
The words from Mishlay (Proverbs) have uniqueness and a familiar chord to the listener, for how remarkably similar they are to the words of the SH’ma, which implores us to keep and teach G-d’s commandments. And how shall we interpret the imagery of the commandments as a “lamp” and the Torah as a “light”? What relevance do these words have for us today, as Jews?
The commandments, viewed here as a lamp, are the instruments by which we guide ourselves through life: our laws and commentaries, our literary heritage of Tanakh (Torah, Nevi’im/Prophets, and Ketuvim/Writings), Midrash (stories based on Torah) and Talmud. The Torah is the light; that is the insight or the flash of brilliance that will help us understand our purposes and goals and inspire us to greater deeds on a personal, family and community level.
The challenge is for each of us to discover how one can best utilize their talents to serve G-d and the Jewish people with the help of the “lamp” and its ”light.” These have been the guidelines of people like Golda Meir, Elie Wiesel, and countless others, who provide us with a model of Jewish living at its fullest.
Shabbat Shalom, This Sabbath will be in person and ALSO ON ZOOM!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder