By Rabbi Dr. Meir Tamari
The clothes of Aharon and his sons were made so that they could officiate
before Hashem in holiness, in honor and in glory. However, it is difficult
to understand why their laws and details were given at this time, when they
were only made at a later date, and Aharon and his sons had not then yet
been chosen as kohanim; the first born only lost their priestly duties
after the Maaseh Ha-eigel. It is true that Rashi and the Rambam explain
this by the principle of "Ain mukdam u me'uchar ba Torah". However, surely
we would expect at least the same logical order from Hashem that is normal
in ordinary human authors? So we have to agree with the Ramban when he
writes that we only apply this principle when there is a reason for
changing the logical sequence of the text. Therefore, we have to seek a
reason for these commandments being given at this time.
[The whole purpose of the Mishkan, its vessels and the 'bigdei kehuna'
depends on whether we agree with Rashi that the Parshiot Trumah and
Tetzaveh were actually given after Ki Tisa, or with the Ramban that they
were give in the order in which they appear in the Torah. According to the
first view the whole purpose of the Mishkan was to atone for the Eigel; if
they would not have sinned there would have been no necessity for the
Mishkan, bearing in mind the great spiritual level that Israel had reached
because of the Revelation at Sinai. The other view [held also by
Abarbanel, the mystics and the Chassidic Masters], would teach that
because of their perfect and elevated spiritual level, the Mishkan was
originally meant to serve as Israel's meeting place with G-d. It was only
because of the sin of the Eigel, that the idea of atonement was added
The text that tells of the making of the pure olive oil in this parshah, is
written as 'You shall command' Tetzaveh' and not 'command the People of
Israel,' 'Tzav', as is usually the wording of the duties to be commanded by
Moshe. The intention was merely to denote that in the future Moshe will
have to command the commandment connected with the oil, rather than its
actual fulfillment that we find written in its logical place in Parshat
Emor, nor in relation to the Menorah and its lights, as given in
Behalotcha. Its only purpose here is in order to teach us that the oil,
the Menorah and the lights were a function of Aharon and his sons dressed
in the clothes that Hashem was about to command here.
The Ibn Ezrah would like to see the mention of the oil and the Bigdei
Kehunah here, simply as the conclusion of the Mishkan and its vessels.
There is much logic to this, but there is actually a far deeper meaning
and a far more importance to the Torah's mentioning at this particular
point in time, even though the choice of the Kohanim was not yet public
knowledge. Already at this stage it was important to make it clear that
the role of Aharon and his 4 sons, [any other sons were not included-
Pinchas earned his special status with his action regarding Zimri], was
not a matter of the default of the firstborn. Rather, it flowed simply and
wholly from the spiritual and religious qualities of Aharon, who was
second only to Moshe himself, as denoted many times in the Torah.
Furthermore, the choice of Aharon as the Kohen and of his sons to succeed
him throughout the generations is further proof of the Divine Wisdom
rather than flowing from Moshe's, since normally men would have appointed
their own son's.
The oil and 'Bigdei Kehunah had to linked to Aharon and his sons at his
very point in time, in order to make it quite clear that they and only
they were to do the Avodah of the Mishkan, they and only they were to
officiate at the korbanot, and they and only they were to arrange the
lights in the Menorah that was never to be extinguished.
The Kohen Hagadol dressed in the 8 garments symbolizes one man, all of
whose faculties and spiritual qualities and yearnings are all united,
logically ordered and intractably interwoven together. The Tzitz on his
forehead symbolizes the world of the mind and the intellect free from all
materialism; that is why it has 'Holy to the Lord' written on it. The
Mitznefet is a reference to the forces of the heavenly worlds. Their
relative positioning comes to teach the absolute superiority of both of
them above the rest of the begadim; the wisdom implements the forces of the
heavens while they transform nature. The Ephod refers to the material
things and is therefore made from simple natural products symbolizing the
4 basics [earth, fire, water and wind], but also the gold that was the
product of artisans to show that they are wrought by human thought and
study. The two 'avnei hashom' placed on the shoulders the uppermost part
of the body, to symbolize Bnei Yisrael, who are more qualified and
prepared to receive the Divine Plenty than any other people. These stones
are the Tribes carried together by the Kohen Hagadol, though there are 2
of them simply to refer to East and West, whereas the 12 stones of the
Choshen refer to the Tribes in their individuality. The Choshen showed
Israel after Matan Torah whereby they were elevated above all other
peoples, even though like them, Israel also is of the 4 elements, material
and earthbound. Indeed, the oil and the garments were destined to be worn
by Aharo and his sons.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Meir Tamari and Torah.org.
r. Tamari is a renowned economist, Jewish scholar, and founder of the Center For Business Ethics (www.besr.org) in Jerusalem.