Parashat Tetzaveh / פרשת תְּצַוֶּה
Read in the Diaspora on 27 February 2021 (15 Adar 5781).
Parashat Tetzaveh is the 20th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.
Torah Portion: Exodus 27:20-30:10
This portion discusses the oil for the Ner Tamid, or the Everlasting Light. This was to provide light in the sanctuary which was completely covered. The olives were pressed for oil, the first drops being the purest. It was the job of the high priest to change the wick.
The portion then discusses the dress of the priests officiating in the Mishkan. The first garment addressed was the Ephod, a short, close-fitting coat. It was woven with blue, purple and scarlet thread, with strands of gold woven into it. Two onyx stones, with the names of the twelve tribes were used as buttons (six on each).
The same material was used to make a breastplate. It had four rows of three stones each. It was doubled over to make a pouch. Inside the pouch was the Urim and Thummin, “Lights and Perfections”. Some say this referred to the breastplate itself, others such as Rashi believe it referred to the parchment inside containing the name of Hashem. This was used to consult Hashem for important matters. Each stone was engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes. When the High Priest consulted Hashem, the stones would light up sequentially and the priest had to discern which letters on the stones were used to spell out the answer to their question.
Next was the robe, a long garment. The ephod was worn over it. It was made of only blue thread. On the bottom hem were interspersed pomegranate shapes of blue, purple and scarlet, and golden bells.
Next was a gold plate that went across the forehead, engraved with “Holy to Hashem”. It was tied to the turban with a blue thread. Finally there was a robe.
Moses then consecrated Aaron and his sons into the priesthood with a ceremony. He offered a bullock and two rams as a sin offering to purify them. He also used unleavened bread and wafers made with fine flour spread with oil as meal offering.
They then washed their bodies and dressed in the priestly attire. Moses used fine anointing oil on their heads. He then took some of the blood and put it on each of their right ears, thumbs and feet. More blood was sprinkled on the altar. This was done for seven days to make atonement.
Finally, Moses is commanded to make an altar to burn incense. This was used every day.