Shemos: 27: 20. And you shall command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually.
This week’s portion continues the theme of the Mishkan concerning itself with the priest’s garments, their implements, the sacrifices, the sanctifications, and first of all here the sacred oil for the lighting of the menorah to kept going from evening until morning each day.
The ‘children of Israel’ refer to our prayers each day that are set before Hashem in humility (crushed) for the ‘lighting’ which means their connection above. Once we are connected we want to maintain that connection continually. How will this be possible?
The lamps are kindled continuously through the offering of the Mincha prayer just before sunset that arises before Hashem both as prayer and supplication. What is kindled here is consciousness in that our thoughts become filled with these prayers and a sense of the connection that comes about through the action of the Shechinah linking us above. In this way we offer each day the best of our worldly thoughts transforming them into holiness. It is this transformation of holiness that is the theme of parasha Tetzaveh.
Shemos: 28: 2. You shall make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for honor and glory.
Moshe has to teach Aaron what Hashem has shown him. These holy garments are Moshe’s teachings. These are to be given to Aaron and his sons so that they will experience kavod and Tiphereth, honor and glory. It is for the purpose building those inner pathways that make their connection with Hashem possible.
Shemos: 28: 12. And you shall put the two stones upon the shoulder straps of the ephod as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel, and Aaron shall carry their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders as a remembrance.
Each of these stones contains the names of six of the tribes-sons of Israel. In this way Israel is represented as a totality, a unique people, indeed one people. This is the remembrance that Aaron carries upon his person in the performance of his duties according to the commands of Hashem.
At any given moment we are surrounded in a sea of consciousness. When we imbue this consciousness with holiness via our prayers it rises to connect with the Shechinah. This connection takes place throughout; leading us back to the the names engraved upon the stones.
Those precious stones representing the sons of Israel also represent our core beliefs. They are precious to us because they make up what our relationship to Hashem is. They are the prayers, the SHMA, Shemoneh Esreh, etc., and every teaching that we have taken to heart. Because we have taken them to heart we wear them on our person linking us to Hashem in holiness, which is what their main purpose always is.
On the ‘choshen’ (breastplate) of judgment once again the twelve tribes are represented. Now indeed are these stones place next to our heart.
Shemos: 28:21. And the stones shall be for the names of the sons of Israel twelve, corresponding to their names; [similar to] the engravings of a seal, every one according to his name shall they be, for the twelve tribes.
On the shoulder straps six names are engraved on two stones one for each shoulder. Here there are four rows of three stones each. The engraved names represent ideas that we know deeply forming a foundation for our thoughts. The four rows of three stones next to our hearts attached to the breastplate refers to the divine name Havayah as we interact with it transforming ourselves from profane to holy.
The choshen (breastplate) is placed so that by its proximity to our heart we remember Hashem and to keep our lives in holy balance. More to come…
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