Recommended D’var Torah - Parshat Tetzave! The Sacred and the Profane, by Rabbi Dr. Moshe Pinchuk

Feb 7, 2014 in 4. Hebrew Language Gems & Torah Insights, Blog | 0 comments

Jewish LawThe Sacred and the Profane
by Rabbi Dr. Moshe Pinchuk

The penultimate subject of Tezaveh is the daily dual sacrifice, more commonly denoted by its Hebrew name, the Korban Tamid (Ex. 29, 38-42). The description of Korban HaTamid reappears, almost verbatim, in Parashat Pinchas (Num. 28, 1-8). A reason for this repetition may be culled from the differing contexts in which Korban Tamid appears. The context in Tezaveh is the sanctification and inauguration of the Mishkan as the abode of the Divine; of Aaron and his children as Kohanim and commencement of their service in the Mishkan. Korban Tamid is the means by which the Altar is sanctified and inaugurated. Indeed, this is one of the most festive, exciting and extraordinary events recorded in the Pentateuch. The context in Pinchas is a world apart. Here Korban Tamid is introduced as the everyday, ordinary and mundane sacrificial activity in the Temple. Korban Tamid does not suffice for any day of festivity and an additional sacrifice is required, appropriately called Korban Mussaf (lit. an additional sacrifice). In short, in Tezaveh, Korban Tamid is the epitome of the extraordinary and unique. In Pinchas, Korban Tamid is presented as ordinary, routine and mundane. And yet, it is precisely the same Korban in both places, even the wording is almost identical, begging the comparison. Rashi (Num. 29, 4), perhaps perturbed by this strange identity, attempts to differentiate: "although such a command has previously been issued in Tezaveh, that was for the inauguration. Here (in Pinchas) the command is for posterity". Ramban (id. loc.) however, rejects this and insists that it is the same sacrifice mentioned in both places.

The emergent message of this identity is the bidirectional connection between the ordinary and the extraordinary. With all the excitement and festivity of the inauguration and sanctification, we realize that ultimately this is all meant to enable the daily and ordinary activities of the temple, embodied in the form of Korban Tamid. Conversely, and perhaps more importantly, as we trudge through the daily routine of the Korban Tamid, we are encouraged to imbue it with the glamor, meaning and excitement it had on that special day when we first engaged in this activity.

Identifying the sacred in the mundane and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary is a theme that can be found in many areas. Compare Pesach to Sukkot. On Pesach we celebrate the unique and the miraculous in our redemption from Egypt. Sukkot, on the other hand, represents four decades of mostly uneventful routine of living in huts in a desolate desert, and yet this is cause for celebration. Our core prayer, Shemone Esreh, is recited thrice daily, six days a week, altogether eighteen consecutive times. Each recitation is identical word for word, and yet we are charged with the task of lending new meaning and wonder to each recitation. This is amply demonstrated by the juxtaposition of the following two mishnayot (Tractate Berachot 4:3-4): "Rabban Gamliel says, Man must daily recite the eighteen benedictions."... Rabbi Eleazar says, "If a man turns his prayers into a fixed charge they cease to elicit mercy". Again in the realm of prayer, compare the Aleynu LeShabeach said in fear, trepidation and supplication as a centerpiece of our prayers on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur to the daily hurried mumbling of the same Aleynu LeShabeach as we hurry out of the Synagogue. The meaning of the double appearance of Korban Tamid as both a routine activity and as a festive activity can be expanded and applied as the value of searching for and creating a rainbow of colors and music from the silent grey of everyday routine life.

Interestingly enough, the first subject of Tezaveh, the oil donation for lighting the Temple Menorah (Ex. 27, 20¬21), is also part of a binary pair. Its twin appears almost verbatim, towards the end of Emor (Lev. 24, 1-4). Ram- ban explains the repetition in terms of the source required to supply the oil. The oil in Tezaveh was obtained through donations from generous Israelites. These donations, however, were a one-time event. Once this supply was diminished an alternate steady and reliable source had to be found. Emor reveals that the new source was to be derived from communal taxes. This binary pair alludes to the concept of seed-money grants: A donor with vision and generosity provides the initial capital required to initialize and start a project. Seed money, however, is a one-time event. This is meant to encourage the project to become viable and independent of the donor and create its own reliable and steady sources of support.

Indeed Larry Roth z"l was one of those generous Israelites with a vision, it was largely due to him that the vision of Torah MiTzion became a reality, and with his constant guidance and care has now become a viable entity. יהי זכרו ברוך.

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