Do It Yourself by Josh Michael


When the Torah gives instructions about the building of the Mishkan, it usually uses words like “VeAsu,” “VeAsita” and “Taaseh,” which are fairly indirect commands all meaning “and make.” However, in our Parashah, different wording is used. For example, the Pesukim of “VeAtah Tetzaveh Et Bnei Yisrael VeYikchu Eilecha Shemen Zayit Zach,” “And you shall command Bnei Yisrael, and they shall take for you pure olive oil (Shemot 27:20), “VeAtah Hakrev Eilecha Et Aharon Achicha,” “And you, bring near to yourself Aharon your brother” (28:1), and “VeAtah TiDaber El Kol Chachmei Lev…VeAsu Et Bigdei Aharon,” “And you shall speak to all the wise hearted people…and they shall make the clothing of Aharon” (28:3) all use the more direct language of “VeAtah...,” “and you...”. Why does Hashem directly command Moshe regarding gathering oil for the Menorah, appointing the Kohen Gadol, and preparing the Bigdei Kehunah? What makes these tasks so important that Moshe is specified as the only one capable of performing them?

Rav Elchanan Sorotzkin says that since these three objects represent essential parts of Judaism, therefore Moshe, the leader of the Jewish people, needs to do them. The oil represents the light of Torah which is constantly bathing the world with its pure light. Just as the oil of the Menorah has to be sealed by the Kohen Gadol, a spiritual leader, to attest to its purity, so too the Torah has to be completely free of outside influences which might interfere with its purity. The Torah here is telling us that Torah learning should always be done under the supervision of a Torah leader of Bnei Yisrael.

The next commandment to personally appoint the Kohen Gadol is symbolic of the appointment of Torah leaders from generation to generation within Bnei Yisrael. Since the Torah must remain unadulterated, its leaders must remain pure as well. This is evidenced by the Kohanim Gedolim who purchased their position during the late period of the second Beit HaMikdash, causing tremendous spiritual damage. These Kohanim were not appointed by people like Moshe, but by corrupt leaders who were not dedicated to Torah values. Here the Torah is highlighting the terrible outcomes that will occur if Bnei Yisrael’s Torah leaders do not remain committed to Hashem. Therefore, Hashem Hashem by asking Moshe, His most loyal servant, to appoint the Kohen Gadol, the precedent was set of keeping the leadership pure.

The last job assigned to Moshe is the preparation of the Kohen’s clothing. Just as Korbanot atone for our sins, the clothing of a Kohen atones for us as well. If a Kohen lacks the proper clothing, he is disqualified from performing the service in the Mishkan. This emphasis on the clothing teaches us the importance of wearing the proper clothing in our lives. We have to wear the clothes that identify us as Jewish: Kippah, Tzitzit, and Tefillin. If we don’t wear these, we disqualify ourselves from being able to properly learn Torah.

Wine on Purim by Yonah Rossman

Go Ahead, Judge a Book by its Cover by Rabbi Chaim Poupko