Parsha Tetzaveh/ Parhsa Zachor/ Purim

FEBRUARY 22, 2013
ADAR 12 5773

Candle-lighting Time: 5:26 PM

This week’s edition of Sparks of Torah is dedicated in loathing memory of Haman on his
yahrzeit. May his memory be blotted out for eternity!


  • This week we read a special Torah reading about our historic arch nemesis, Amalek (Deut. 25:17-19)
  • Purim begins when Shabbos ends Saturday night at sundown. We listen to Megilas Esther once that night, and once on Sunday. Also, on Sunday we eat a festive meal, give food gifts to friends,and donate money to the needy. Have a wonderful Purim!

Let’s Eat!

I was once privileged to meet the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar. He wears a very majestic robe with elaborate and intricate gold embroidery. On his head he wears a very unique, black satin orb which looks like the product of NASA technology. He walks deliberately,with dignity, and surrounded as he is by an entourage of assistants and security guards, he reminds one of the grandeur of the Kohen Gadol.

The Chief Rabbi said the following beautiful idea about the construction of the Mishkan and the priestly vestments, which is the subject of this week’s parsha.The building of the Mishkan was a tremendously elaborate and complex project. There were many intricate details that had to be attended to with expert craftsmanship. Many people were involved and a significant percentage of our national resources were dedicated to it.

Think about it for a moment. When were the commandment and instructions given to the JewishPeople to undertake this monumental and historic task? In the desert, just a few short months after leaving Egypt.The desert is a place devoid of life. There are no settlements, no hotels, restaurants or gas stations. After a person takes a trip through a desert, one traditionally makes a blessing of thanksgiving for surviving the experience. It’s not the kind of place you stop and do a big craft project, even a holy one.

Traveling in the desert, the people were concerned about their food, their water and their basic survival. Why did G-d command them right there in the desert to construct the Mishkan? Couldn’t it have waited until they were more comfortably parked in the pleasant surroundings of the Land of Israel?

The lesson, explained the Chief Rabbi, is that our spiritual lives are no less important than our physical lives. Spirituality is not for your spare moments of leisure. It’s not a hobby. “Ki hem chayeinu…” For these [words of Torah] are our lives.It’s just like something the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Isaac Wasserman, told an adult student of his recently. The student, who works as an accountant, said that he couldn’t come to class for a while, he was too busy with tax season. Rabbi Wasserman asked him if he was planning on eating and drinking during tax season, because if so, he had better come to class, too! (And he did.)Our souls are as dependent on the nourishment of Torah as our bodies are dependent on the physical nourishment of food and water. Have a wonderful Purim, with delightful meals for your bodies, and the life-giving words of Torah for your hungry souls.


Parshas Tetzaveh deals with the magnificent wardrobe that the Kohanim wore when they servedin the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash. All this was commanded directly by Hashem through Moshe to the people. Yet we do not find the name of Moshe mentioned even once in this parsha. This is highly unusual.
The tremendous excitement generated by the construction of the Mishkan and the manufacture of the clothing worn by the Kohanim was palpable. Especially because the Mishkan indicated that Hashem had forgiven us for the tremendous blunder that we had committed, namely the Golden Calf fiasco. Finally the Jewish nation was rebuilding and redefining itself properly. The absence of Moshe’s name would tarnish the marvelous, impending simcha.
Zohar writes that Moshe was adamant that if Hashem would not forgive the Jewish nation for the sin of the Golden Calf, then his name should be omitted from the Torah. Although Hashem did subsequently grant that forgiveness, nonetheless, since Moshe had stated that his name should be removed from the Torah, his words were a self-fulfilling prophecy and therefore in this week’s parsha his name does not appear.
Perhaps the upshot of this episode is that when something catastrophic happens, even if we survive, the repercussions will be felt. Moshe petitioned for his people, the Jewish nation, and he put his very life on the line. The after effect of that decision affected him for all generations in that his name is not mentioned in this week’s parsha.In a related way, Purim has a similar lesson. When the Jewish nation left Egypt, they were assaulted by Amalek. Even though for the vast majority of our people Amalek did not pose a threat, there were those, however, that were susceptible to the danger. Those were the people that Amalek was able to kill. Had our entire nation been stronger and more focused on Hashem, we would have been totally invincible. Hence, it was a deficiency within us that led to our vulnerability to Amalek. Later, when King Saul was commanded to annihilate the Amalekite nation, he spared the life of Agog, their king. As a result, Agog was able to bear a child. Haman was a descendant of that child, who threatened to annihilate us, all due to a critical oversight by King Saul.
The eventual outcome was that we rallied the troops and with Hashem’s assistance we were saved from Haman’s evil decree. However, it is clear from this entire perspective that our simchaand rejoicing came as a result of two major errors that occurred within our ranks that we could possibly have avoided.Perhaps we should approach Purim with mixed emotions. On the one hand we are eternally grateful to Hashem for His salvation from the threat of Haman. However, we vividly recall the historic events which led up to Haman’s rise to power, and recognize that sometimes we are the cause of our own problems. We must be ever vigilant in our decisions and our actions to prevent mistakes from creeping into our lives which can ultimately be dangerous.

A Question for the Rabbis

Rabbi Menashe Klein was asked if the celebratory meal for a bris milah (circumcision) shouldspecifically be a meat meal. He responded that certainly a meat meal is most appropriate for the bris. He cites Rabeinu Bachya (Kad Hakemach, Milah) who writes that it is correct to have a meal after the bris as did Abraham after circumcising Isaac, and that since the parents are giving their child to G-d at the bris, it is similar to the offering of a sacrifice in the Temple. In the Torah portion this week we are told that there is a commandment to eat of the offering that one brings to the Temple (Exodus 29:33) and therefore, writes Rabeinu Bachya, that mitzvah is fulfilled by eating a meal after the bris. Rabbi Klein concludes that since the meal is compared to eating a sacrifice it should specifically be a meat meal, like the Temple offerings (Responsa Mishneh Halachot 14:272). Other authorities justify the common custom to serve a dairy meal at a bris because it is usually served as breakfast (Maharam Schik Y.D. 366), while others allow a dairy meal in any case (Shnei Luchot Habrit, Shevet Halevi, Teshuvot Vehanhagot).
Joke of the Week

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it!


Our miraculous deliverance from Haman was actually a prelude to the rebuilding of the second Temple in Jerusalem. When the first Temple was destroyed and we were sent into exile in Babylon, it was a very bleak period in our history. When we galvanized ourselves to respond to the threat of Haman, however, we were ready to rebuild. Perhaps before the third Holy Temple isbuilt in the future, we will merit another major miracle which will inspire us to prepare for its arrival.