Sedra of the week: Tetzaveh

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Sedra of the week: Tetzaveh

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

A reconstruction of the Menorah of the Temple created by the Temple Institute (Wikipedia/Author: The Temple Institute, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem.)
A reconstruction of the Menorah of the Temple created by the Temple Institute (Wikipedia/Author: The Temple Institute, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem.)

 Tetzaveh introduces us to the Israelites the sevenbranched menorah and the priestly garments and adornments. The family of Aaron is instructed how to prepare for service in the sanctuary. Every aspect of the sanctuary is emulated in the home; there is a correlation between Divine service and domestic behaviour.

For this reason, the timing given to light the Chanukah candle is, according to one opinion, the time at which lamps are lit for mundane use. The priestly garments reflect

modest dress – for men too – in the trousers worn against the skin, and a loose fitting robe which arguably, Jews ought to wear as distinctive dress, not only Muslims; we are at source a Middle Eastern people.

The hat worn by the priests may have mutated over time into the custom of Jews not to go bareheaded. A custom recorded in the Talmud is that when at prayer, a Jew should not wear an unbelted one-piece garment when at prayer. This derives from the priestly belt.

Other garments are said to reflect expected standards of behaviour, such as the bells which rang on the hem of the high priest’s cloak which warned others of his proximity; so we must not to creep up on people but gently warn of our approach.

The apron was emblematic of the importance to guard oneself against illicit temptation of a sexual nature. The golden head-plate bore God’s name on the high priest’s forehead at all times during services. This pointed out the need to check one’s outward pose and posture against being highhanded and arrogant, by humbly remembering that we are all mortal creations of an immortal God.

  •   Rabbi Ariel Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and padre to HM Armed Forces
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