This D’var Torah is in Z’chus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H,  & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein in Z’chus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandfather Moshe Ben Breindel, and my grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha

-And all of the Cholei Yisrael
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.


הַפְטָרָה שֶׁל פַּרָֺשַת תְּצַוֶּה


“Kohanim; For the People, By the People”

     Previously, we opened a discussion about how the Haftaros from Parshas Terumah until the end of Sefer Shemos are really just segments or chapters of the larger story of Shlomo HaMelech’s building of the first Beis HaMikdash [Melachim Aleph 5-8]. For our purposes, we decided to refer to these Sidros and their Haftaros as the “Mishkan Series.”

However, the Haftarah for Parshas Tetzaveh is one of the two exceptions to this “series,” as it is not taken from the story of Shlomo’s building of the Beis HaMikdash. Why is the “Mishkan Series” interrupted?

It could be because, although in the Torah, Parshas Tetzaveh does continue the discussion of Mishkan related items, if one looks at all of the items in Tetzaveh, there is a more central theme than merely the Mishkan itself. What is that theme?

Tetzaveh has a special focus on the role and services of the Kohanim (Priests). For example, Tetzaveh begins with a command concerning the Menorah which Aharon HaKohein was destined to kindle. Then, Tetzaveh elaborates on the details of the Bigdei Kehunah, the Kohanic clothing. Moreover, while most of the Keilim (vessels) of the Mishkan were described in Parshas Terumah, the description of the Mizbei’ach HaZahav (Golden Altar) upon which the Ketores (incense) was offered is conspicuously pushed off until the end of Tetzaveh, and of course, only the Kohanim could perform this service as alluded to by the golden diadem around the Altar which Chazzal tell us is a symbol of the Kesser Kehunah, Crown of Priesthood [See Rashi to Shemos 30:3 citing Yoma 72B]. Thus, Parshas Tetzaveh is not merely a continuation of the Mishkan discussion of Terumah, but it is, in its own way, an isolated section about the Kehunah.

With the above in mind, it makes sense that the Haftarah would also interrupt our program to bring us something more relevant and Kohein-related such as a description about the Golden Menorah like we read about for Parshas Be’ha’alosecha [from Zechariah 4] or something specifically about the Kohanim themselves like we find in the Haftarah for Parshas Emor [from Yechezkeil 44].

That’s what we would expect, right? But, if we look at the actual Haftarah for Parshas Tetzaveh from Yechzkeil [43:10-27] during the time of the Third Temple Inauguration, although the Navi does talk a little bit about the Kohanim, they are really only mentioned in passing! In fact, the Haftarah’s main focus is something that is hardly featured in Parshas Tetzaveh, namely the Inauguration of the copper Mizbei’ach which stood outside the Heichal (Sanctum) and was designated for Burnt offerings, all which was described back in Parshas Terumah. Yup, that is correct; with a Sidrah that specially highlights the Kohanim and the Golden Altar, we have specifically chosen to read about the Copper Altar of last week’s Sidrah…

Now, I know what you’re thinking: We interrupted our Mishkan Series for this? Indeed, it is strange. Tetzaveh is a Kehunah exclusive Sidrah, as we’ve explained, loaded with so many of the unique features of Kohein-related things. So, the question is why exactly it is that this reading about the Mizbei’ach HaOlah is an appropriate one for Parshas Tetzaveh.
Perhaps the answer to this question is one that is fundamental for our understanding of the true focal point of Tetzaveh and key role of the Kohanim. Yes, Tetzaveh introduces us to the Golden Altar, and all of the other fancy features of the Kehunah, but perhaps the proposed climax of Tetzaveh which, ironically, may be the most glossed over passage in Tetzaveh, actually concerns the procedure for the Inauguration of the Kohanim which transpired through the communal offerings that were offered on this copper Mizbei’ach HaOlah [See Shemos 29]. This induction ceremony which every Kohein would undergo would begin each Kohein’s term and services, all which would revolve around the offerings which were offered on this Altar. And this ceremony might speak volumes about the role of the Kohanim. If for nothing else, the Kohanim serve to unify Israel with its Creator through their daily Avodah representing their brothers in the Temple by offering the Korbanos on their behalf. It’s not about the extravagant garments or adornments that the Kohanim wear, it is not about the personal glory that comes with being a Kohein. It is about the crucial responsibility that comes with serving in the Mikdash. It is about making the Avodah possible, a truly humbling experience.

Of course, when we see all of the special honor and privileges of the Kohanim, it is easy to miss the central role of the Kohanim which is really service for one’s community for a higher calling. It could be that Moshe Rabbeinu himself lost sight of this particular goal of the Kehunah when he, in his unmatched humility, forfeited his rights to the Kehunah to his brother at the scene of the Burning Bush [See Rashi to Shemos 4:14 citing Shemos Rabbah 17 and Zevachim 102A]. He didn’t want any glory, and indeed, there is much glory that comes with being a Kohein, but, with our Haftarah, we recognize that Kehunah is not truly about the glory, and in fact, is not even about the Kohanim themselves!

The above can all be equally applied to the B’nei Yisrael at large as Hashem’s Mamleches Kohanim (Kingdom of Priests) [Shemos 19:6] to the world. Because, yes, like the Kohanim, we have a lot of privileges and spiritual glory as Hashem’s treasured, firstborn nation, yet the main focus for us has to be the daily Avodah that we do to unify the entire world with its Creator. At the end of the day, that’s what it is really all about.


May we all be Zocheh to appreciate our Kohanic role, actualize that role by successfully engaging in and fulfilling our daily Avodah, unifying ourselves and everyone around us with Hashem, and Hashem should shower us with all the due glory that comes with being His Kohanim, and accept our future Avodah in the Third Beis HaMikdash in the days of Moshiach, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos Zachor and a Freilechin Purim!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg 🙂