Parashat Tetzaveh (You shall command) Exodus 27:20-30:10
Maftir: Deuteronomy 25:17-19
Haftarah: I Samuel 15:1-34
This Shabbat is the Shabbat before Purim; therefore, the normal Maftir and Haftarah are replaced with special readings related to this Biblical holiday. In the weekly Torah portion we read about the garments of the priests (Kohanim). Although there were several garments that the Kohanim wore, I would like to focus on only one of them— the sash אבנט. Most translators render this word as “sash”, but its purpose was not decorative, rather very functional. It actually was a type of belt that would hold the other garments in place. It is for this reason that I prefer to render the word as “belt”. Scholars point out that this belt was necessary to allow the Kohanim to work while wearing all their other garments. Hence, without the belt the attire of the Kohanim was more symbolic in nature, therefore it was the belt that reminded the Kohanim that they were called to serve.
This word appears nine times in the Hebrew Bible. All but one occurrence are found in the Torah. The lone occurrence outside the Torah is found in the 22nd chapter of Isaiah. In this chapter HaShem is very disappointed with Jerusalem for the unrighteous behavior that is taking place there and the lack of faith of its inhabitants. In short, the people trusted in the Temple, rather than in the Living G-d.
The spiritual leader at this time was a man by the name of Shebna. He was not a spiritually grounded individual. Isaiah speaks about the fact that he had made himself a great tomb in Jerusalem in the best part of the burial area. It was clear from this fact that he was thinking more about his earthly legacy than how he was going to be seen by the King of Heaven. So, too, are many individuals today; they want an elaborate funeral and want to be remembered by those who they leave behind. Even though Shebna was very sure that he would remain in Jerusalem until his death, HaShem cast him far from the Holy City and he died in exile. His legacy would be that he left his master’s house in shame. In other words, he did not focus on the right thing. He was seeking his own honor instead of the wellbeing of the Kingdom (the King’s house) and the Temple.
Shebna was replaced by Eliakim who, we are told, was given Shebna’s tunic by HaShem and was girded by Him with his belt (See Isaiah 22:21). This means that HaShem commissioned him to work. Eliakim was not the only one who has received such a calling. John the Baptist was also one who was girded with a belt and went to work preparing the way of Messiah Yeshua (Matthew 3:4). John faithfully completed his call, have you? If you are a follower of Yeshua you, too, are called to work and assist in preparing the way for His return. Why not gird your loins and get busy? Be like Eliakim and not like Shebna!
Shabbat Shalom, Tzom qal and Purim Semeach.
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