Parashat Tetzaveh: Exodus, chapters 27:20 to 30:10

March 3, 2023


The title of our Torah portion comes from the three letter verb root, “tz-v-h” which means “to command.” This is the verb in the future tense. The noun derived from this verb is of course, “mitzva,” which means a commandment.

Our ‘sedrah’ continues with more details about the sanctuary’s detailed building plans, and especially the unique garments to be worn by the priestly class. These garments are invested with holiness, which shall remind the priests of their sacred obligations. The opening paragraph of our portion instructs the priests to make sure that a light is kept burning every night in the front of the Mishkan (the portable sanctuary). There is a curtain which separates the inner “holy of holies” from the rest of the sanctuary. This mitzva is the origin of the “ner tamid,” the perpetual lamp which is found in every synagogue in front of the Ark. The words “ner Tamid” are the last two Hebrew words at the end of the first sentence of our Torah portion. Every sanctuary possesses an inner light, a ‘ner tamid,’ and the human soul possesses an inner light as well.

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