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Routine Inpiration

By: Dr. Judith Fogel

This week’s parsha, Tetzaveh, continues describing the various work necessary for building the Mishkan, the temporary dwelling of Hashem’s shechinah until the Beit Hamikdash would be built.   Whereas last week detailed the structure and vessels of the Mishkan, this week depicts the clothes required in the Mishkan service. However, upon completing telling us what is required to set up the Mishkan, the Torah then digresses.

The Torah designates Sefer Bamidbar (Parshat Pinchas) to listing all of the karbanot to be sacrificed during the various times of the year.  Yet, in our parshah we find the Torah commanding us to sacrifice the Korban Tamid, the twice-daily required sacrifice.  The juxtaposition of the building of the Mishkan and the mitzvah of the Korban Tamid simply doesn’t make sense, especially when Pinchas already fulfills the role of explaining the sacrifices, including the Korban Tamid (again). What can this mean?

Before answering that question, I would like to take a tangent of my own.

In my gemara shiur we are learning Mesechet Brachot.  There, the gemara records a debate amongst the Rabbis regarding the source for our daily tefilot: one camp believes that the tefilot were established in memory of the Avot, with the other camp cites the daily karbanot. 

According to the first opinion, the Avot established the tefilot.  After losing his argument with Hashem concerning the destruction of Sedom, the following morning Avraham returned to the place where the debate had occurred and “spoke with G-d.”  With Yitzchak, the Torah tells us how he went to “meditate” in the field in the afternoon before his father’s servant brings home his future bride, Rivkah.  And after fleeing his home to escape a murderous Eisav, Yaakov reaches out to Hashem at night.  In each instance, an intense moment of pressure or feeling inspires our forefathers to search out Hashem and pray.

In contrast, the second opinion doesn’t look to one-time events but rather the daily ritual of the Tamid sacrifice that occurred every single day – without exception. 

This debate isn’t semantic but rather relates to a much bigger discussion as to where we Jews look for inspiration, in general: one-time inspirational events or the power of daily rote.  

Which bring us back to answering our original question.

Ibn Ezra (Shemot 29:38) and Rashi (Bamidbar 28:4) suggest that Shemot relates to the commandment to the Jews who had left Egypt [Dor Hamidbar] while Bamidbar is the commandment for all future generations.  No repetition at all.

Rav Hirsch, however, sees our parsha in a different light, using the logic used above in Masechet Brachot. 

Rav Hirsch stresses that simply constructing the Mishkan, creating its utensils, and sewing the clothes did not automatically usher in G-d’s presence, His shchinah, into the Mishkan.  Neither, by the way, did the simple building of the Beit Hamikdash immediately transfer the shchinah from the Mishkan to the Beit Hamikdash.  These are both one-time events that merely set the stage, providing the possibility for holiness.  Rather, the goal of ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם [Create for me a Sanctuary so I can dwell there] is only accomplished once the twice-daily Korban Tamid – a daily renewal of the ideals of Judaism – is first brought by the Kohanim upon the completion of the preparations for the Mishkan.  While the initial building is inspiring, it is the initiation of the daily ritual, the routine, which actually fulfills the goal and brings in the shchinah.

May all of our daily actions remind and renew for us the essence and ideals of our faith.

Shabbat Shalom


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