Parashat Tetzaveh


Parashat Tetzaveh

This week’s Torah portion deals almost exclusively with the levitical priests and their vestments. In this brief study we will deal with only one of the vestments called the head-plate.  This head-plate was not worn by all priests, but only the High Priest. This plate was made from pure gold and had engraved upon it “Holy to HaShem” (see Exodus 28:36). It is called in Hebrew “tzits”. It was worn on the forehead over the turban and fastened in the back by a cord of techeilet (a material which is light blue in color). The Torah teaches that there was a special purpose for the head-plate,

“It shall be upon the forehead of Aaron and Aaron shall obtain forgiveness for iniquity regarding the sacred (sacrifices) which the children of Israel shall consecrate for all their holy gifts.  And it shall be upon his forehead always in order to achieve favor for them before the L-rd.” Exodus 28:38

This verse reveals that the High Priest wore the “tzits” so that HaShem would look upon it and see the words “Holy to the L-rd”. The word “holy” refers to the people of Israel. Hence the sacrifices that Israel made through the levitical Temple service were not enough to obtain forgiveness for the children of Israel. The High Priest wore the head-plate as a way of stating Israel’s call to be a holy people. It was when HaShem saw the head-plate that He remembered His covenant with Israel and extended His mercy and grace to Israel, forgiving their iniquity so by Israel could fulfill their call of being a holy people.

This mitzvah reminds the reader that it is not man’s ability alone to offer sacrifices that achieves his forgiveness, but true forgiveness is based in the mercy of G-d and His grace. Some rabbinical commentators point out that the fact that the “tzits” was made out of pure gold speaks about G-d’s desire that His people be pure from sin. The same commentators also say that the techeilet, which is the color of heaven, relates to the fact that such a reality as Israel being a pure and holy people does not originate with man (earth), but can only be realized by the work of the G-d of the heavens.

Hence one can rightly conclude that a very important part of forgiveness was when
G-d looked upon the High Priest and his work and extended favor to His people Israel. In a similar manner one cannot overestimate the significance of divine favor which is achieved when G-d the Father looks upon His Son our High Priest Messiah Yeshua and His perfect work of redemption.  Other commentators point out that the head-plate was worn on the forehead of the High Priest always, to remind us to constantly be thinking about the fact that as believers in Messiah, we become a royal priesthood and we are called to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable before G-d continuously.

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