Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dvar Torah for Parshas Tetzaveh (Shabbos Zachor)

Because of preparations for next week’s Purim Dvar Torah, this week’s Dvar Torah is on the shorter side. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to providing you with great Divrei Torah every week!
After discussing the vessels and the structure of the Mishkan, the next step in its’ construction is the clothes of the Kohanim which are now discussed in this week’s parshah, Parshas Tetzaveh. As in Parshas Terumah, the pesukim go into great detail explaining the workings of the clothing including, the design, how they were made, and how everything fit together.
Every Kohen had a standard set of clothing containing four items: a turban, a pair of pants, a long shirt-like garment known as the Ktones, and a belt. The Kohen Gadol (High Priest) had an extra four pieces of clothing befitting his high position. They consisted of: the Me’il, a garment similar to today’s talis, the apron-like Ephod, the Choshen, breastplate, and the Tzitz, which was worn on his forehead.
The pasuk tells us that a special method of design called, “מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב”, was used in the making of both the Choshen and the Ephod but not by any of the other articles of clothing. (This method is also mentioned by the coverings of the Mishkan structure in Parshas Terumah. See Shemos 26:1.) Rashi explains this method as, “אריגת שתי קירות שאין צורות שני עבריה דומות זו לזו“(this is) the weaving of two surfaces (i.e. two sides of the same cloth), so that the images of the two sides are not like each other” (Shemos 28:6). Basically, one piece of cloth was woven with two completely different pictures on either side of it! This was truly a work of a master craftsmanship.
The Kli Yakar explains the significance behind this design. There is a gemarah in Maseches Zevachim (88b) which explains that each of the eight articles of the Kohen Gadol’s clothing atoned for a different sin. The Choshen atoned for miscarriage of justice and the Ephod atoned for Avoda Zara. The six sins atoned for by the other pieces of clothing are murder, illicit relations, arrogance, thoughts of desire for things which are against the Torah, slander (לשון הרע), and insolence (chutzpah). The sins of Avoda Zara and the miscarriage of justice are different from the rest of these sins because even if you only transgressed these two with your thoughts, it is still considered as if you actually did a physical act. (The sin of desire is obviously one of thoughts and not actions, but I believe the difference is that it is never considered as if you did an actual physical act like by Avoda Zara.) If there is an Avoda Zara which is served by thinking about it, someone who does think about it, even though he never actually did anything physical, will be guilty of the sin of Avoda Zara. Similarly, the only compass a judge has with which to guide himself is his thought process. If he misjudges the case, he didn’t physically misjudge the case, it was merely his thoughts! Still, we consider you as having actively transgressed this sin.
The Kli Yakar uses a play on words here. He takes the words “מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב” and connects them to the word “מחשבה”, “thoughts”. This special design used in the construction of the Mishkan is actually referring to the fact that these two pieces of clothing teach us that our thoughts can also be harmful.
Rashi brings this gemarah in Zevachim as well, however, the only item he references it to is the Choshen. In fact, Rashi references it twice, and while the first time he brings it as his first explanation, the second time he brings it at the end of his explanation and only in order to cover all his bases. What is different about the Choshen that Rashi felt the need to bring this gemarah here but not by any of the other ones?
Let’s look at the two times Rashi brings this gemarah. The first time is in Pasuk 15, “וְעָשִׂיתָ חֹשֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֵפֹד תַּעֲשֶׂנּוּ“You shall make the Choshen of Judgment the work of an artist, like the work of the Ephod shall you make it…” (28:15), and the second time is in Pasuk 30, “וְנָתַתָּ אֶל חֹשֶׁן הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֶת הָאוּרִים וְאֶת הַתֻּמִּים“Into the Choshen of Judgment shall you place the Urim and the Tumim…” (28:30). While the Choshen is referenced many times between Pasuk 15 and 30, these two pesukim are the only instances where it is referred to as “חֹשֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט”, the Choshen of Judgment. In every other instance it is referred to simply as the Choshen. It must be that the word “מִשְׁפָּט" is not part of the Choshen's title, rather, it is only used in order to describe it. So why would the pasuk refer to the Choshen in this manner? Rashi explains that in these two places the pasuk is referring back to the Gemarah in Zevachim. When the Choshen is called “מִשְׁפָּט”, the pasuk is teaching us that the Choshen will restore judgment by atoning for the breakdown of it. Since none of the other items have any sort of title which could reference back to their corresponding sin, Rashi feels no need to explain them from this gemarah, especially as it is not the simple explanation.
Shabbat Shalom!
If you would like to receive this Dvar Torah by email, please email us at
Questions on the Dvar Torah? Please email us or comment below.

*NOTE: There is a third pasuk which refers to the Choshen as the חֹשֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט which I did not mention in the Dvar Torah. I had two explanations for this, either the Pasuk has no reference to the concept of justice or because it is right next to Pasuk 30, Rashi explains both pesukim at the same time.  


No comments:

Post a Comment