The Clothes Make the Man

The Clothes Make the Man

Feb 19, 2016 By Rachel Smith | Commentary | Tetzavveh

[The] unlikely alliance of diverse and superficially incompatible musical traditions, mysteriously accomplished under punk, found ratification in an equally eclectic clothing style which reproduced the same kind of cacophony on the visual level.
Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style, 26

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Garments of Light

Garments of Light

Feb 12, 2016 By Raymond Scheindlin | Commentary | Tetzavveh

Last week, we read God’s orders to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle and its accoutrements. This week, our parashah continues on the subject of the Tabernacle and the preparations for starting the sacrificial cult, focusing on the Tabernacle’s personnel: the priests—particularly their vestments and the rituals for the priests’ consecration. These subjects will return, for after a week devoted largely to the story of the Golden Calf, the Torah will repeat the account of the Tabernacle nearly verbatim, not in the form of instructions for things to be made but as a narrative of their making.

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Holy Light: Remembering Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld

Holy Light: Remembering Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld

Feb 22, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Tetzavveh

This past week at the Seminary, we commemorated the first Yahrzeit of Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld, whose young lives were extinguished one year ago (February 25, 1996) in Jerusalem by the bomb of a Hamas terrorist. Matthew was a second–year rabbinical student spending the year studying intensively at the Seminary’s Beit Midrash, and Sara, who had just graduated Barnard, was about to become his fiancee. We used the occasion of their Yahrzeit to dedicate in their memory a spacious room where Seminary students gather each day till late at night to study Talmud in small groups, havruta–style.

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Clothing Without and Within

Clothing Without and Within

Mar 3, 2007 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Tetzavveh | Purim

Clothing offers keen insight in two complementary directions. First, the raiment one wears reveals one’s personality. While a neat, well fitting suit may convey a sense of professionalism and conservatism, jeans and a tie-dyed shirt reflect a casual, relaxed, and liberal sense of self. And just as clothing offers an allusion inward, so, too, does it give us a sense of what is transpiring around us. A kittel (a white ritual robe worn at liminal moments) or tallit (prayer shawl) signals a moment of prayerful reflection; tuxedos and gowns tip us off to a wedding reception; and black garments often represent mourning. Thus, clothing is a mark of the internal as well as the external.

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The Sound of a Guest

The Sound of a Guest

Mar 6, 2004 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Tetzavveh

I am continually amazed at how the Rabbis of ancient times were able to make even seemingly obscure passages in the Torah relevant to their times – and ours. Our parashah this week is full of details, details about the clothing and ornaments of the priests and of their ordination. And while the Rabbis of ancient times may have longed for a rebuilding of the Temple – with all its consequent religious, national and political significance – in their day it was no longer standing, and its priests were no longer functioning. What then, to make of the sections of the Torah dealing with the priests’ garments?

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Flames That Ascend on Their Own

Flames That Ascend on Their Own

Feb 23, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Tetzavveh

The Rabbis, ever careful readers of the Torah text, noticed an oddity in the first verse of our parashah. In describing how olive oil shall be brought to light the menorah — the seven—branched lampstand which stood in the Sanctuary — the Torah says: “You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you [v’yikhu aylekha] clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly.” Shouldn’t the text say “instruct the Israelites to bring Me …” This was, after all, to be the Sanctuary where the Israelites felt the Divine Presence.

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The Priest’s Brother

The Priest’s Brother

Feb 23, 2002 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Tetzavveh

Parashat T’tzavveh describes the positions of priests and the high priest (cohen gadol), the clothing of their office and their initiation ceremony, complete with sacrifices and incense. Nechama Leibowitz points out an unusual feature of the parasha: Moses’ name does not appear once. He appears indirectly, as God says, “You yourself, speak to all the wise–hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to sanctify him…” (Exodus 18:3). But even in the first phrase of the parasha, which so often reads, “And God spoke to Moses, saying…,” in T’tzavveh we read only, “And you yourself shall command the children of Israel (ve ata, tetzaveh et bnei Israel) that they bring you pure olive oil, beaten, for light, to burn a perpetual light” (Exodus 27:20).

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A Kingdom of Priests

A Kingdom of Priests

Feb 23, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Tetzavveh

Upon meeting non-Jews who are unfamiliar with what a rabbi is, I often tell them my role is somewhat akin to the role of a priest or a minister in the Christian tradition. But the truth is, there are significant differences between rabbis and priests. While rabbis often “officiate” at life cycle and worship ceremonies, Judaism does not require them to perform these rites. Whereas, in the Catholic church, priests are often the only ones who can perform life cycle and worship ceremonies, known as sacraments.

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