March 4, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Tetzaveh
This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Tetzaveh is taken from Exodus 27:20-30:10. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he unravels the Priestly Leadership outlined in the Torah, and the responsibility of being the conscience of society, reminding the people of their spiritual and moral vocation.
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Tetzaveh - Exodus 27:20-30:10
One of the most important Jewish contributions to our understanding of leadership is the understanding called “the separation of powers.” Neither authority nor powers was to be located in a single individual or office. Leadership was divided between different kinds of roles and we find them in Eph. 4:10-16. Who gave these gifts? In this parashah we see a fundamental division of religious leadership into two distinct functions—that of the prophet and priest. This parashah deals with the priestly and not the prophetic.
Elohim address Moses and three times tells him…” You shall command” and “You shall bring.” Elohim is stressing the importance of his responsibilities and the confidence that He had in him. Moses’ mission was to teach the Torah to the people and to enforce it brought him immense satisfaction. Psa. 119:92 says, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Moses came to realize that the crown of Torah was even more precious than the crown of the priesthood. The crown of the Torah is accessible to all people, Jew and Gentile, no matter what their origins, whereas Aaron’s distinction is passed on solely to his own offspring.
In Exodus 27:20 there is a command to press olives for illumination. The first press is the purest and highest quality olive oil and it was reserved for the Menorah, but the oil for the meat offerings could be made of oil of lesser quality. Usually, the better oil is used for preparing food, while oil of secondary quality is used for lighting a lamp. However, in the Tabernacle the best quality of oil was reserved for the Menorah. Do you give Elohim your best oil? What we see here is that matters of the spirit, symbolized by the sacred light, take precedence. Seek first the Kingdom, lay your treasure in heaven not on the earth, give your first fruits (tithe) to Elohim.
Exodus 27:20 commands to keep a lamp burning continually, both physically and spiritually. The Torah is compared to fire and the human soul to light. Whoever lights the Menorah brings the flame of the law into men’s hearts and ignites them. The word “kindle”, literally to cause the flame to go up, is used instead of the simpler expression to light, this implies that the Cohen should keep the small flame with which he is lighting the wick, near the wick until the flame goes up from the wick itself. What is the lesson? The goal of the teacher of Torah is to make his students independent and himself unnecessary. Eventually, they should be able to do without his assistance. This is a permanent decree even though we no longer possess our Temple. However, we still have synagogues and Kehillahs and by keeping their eternal lights constantly lit, we are preparing for the future light of the Messianic Kingdom as the prophet said in Isa. 60:3, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
This was man’s first contribution to the Divine dwelling on the earth, just as the creation of light was the first act in the creation of the universe. The Torah is the flame which spreads from the heavenly spark of Elohim. We are a lamp which absorbs the light of the Torah. Our body is the wick and our soul is the pure olive oil which fuels the flame. When the lamp and the flame unite, we produce a light which fills the whole house—the world.
Now let’s look at Exodus 28 where Aaron and his sons are called on to be priests in the service of Elohim. Unlike Torah-learning, which is not hereditary—the priesthood is a hereditary right that passes from father to son. Moses- the law-giver, was not privileged to see his sons replace him, as was his brother. Priest and prophets were very different in their roles. Despite the fact that some prophets, the most famous being Ezekiel, were also priests. Priest had a teaching role to teach Torah, Deut. 33:10 says, “He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel. He offers incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar.” Malachi 2:7 says, A cohen’s lips should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek Torah from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Adonai-Tzava’ot.” However, they were full of corruption, took bribes, compromised faith, performed idolatrous practices, involved in politics, and looked at themselves as elite and had disdain toward the people as a whole.
At this time, the prophet became the voice of Elohim and the conscience of society, reminding the people of their spiritual and moral vocation. They called the people to repent and return—reminding the people of their duties to Elohim and to each other. Warning them of the consequences if they did not obey. Prophets were essential, they were the world’s first social critics—mandated by Elohim to speak truth to power!
What do we learn from Torah? Leadership can never be confined to one class or role; kings dealt with power; priests with holiness; prophets with the integrity and faithfulness of society as a whole. It is melody and harmony, two distinct voices blending together. As a House—we are made up of people with different roles, strengths, temperaments, and perspectives. We must always be open to criticism and must always be on the alert against group-think. The power of biblical Judaism is its insistence that only in heaven is there one commanding voice. Down here on earth, out of the clash of perspectives, kings, priests, and prophets comes something larger than any individual or role can achieve.
In Eph. 4:11-13 it says, “Furthermore, He gave some people as emissaries, some as prophets, some as proclaimers of the Good News, and some as shepherds and teachers. Their task is to equip Elohim’s people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah until we all arrive at the unity implied by trusting and knowing the Son of Yah, at full manhood, at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah’s perfection.” So, I encourage you to understand your gift, stay in your lane, be willing to be taught, use what He gave you for the purpose of the community, to edify and perfect each other. In this parashah, He reveals the importance of each ones’ role for the Kingdom…whatever He called you to do…it is important!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Walk in the power of Yeshua’s light. Run to the House of Elohim and worship together as you enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Have a blessed Sabbath and see you at the altar!