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Tetzaveh 5776

Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  A young man visited his guru before leaving the ashram in India for America. "O Guru," asks the young man, "What is life all about?" And the guru answers, "Life is like a mountain." The young man leaves for America and for the next ten years torments himself to understand the depth and the meaning of his guru's words. Finally, he can bear it no longer; he purchases a ticket and returns to India to beseech his guru for the meaning of the elusive comparison. "O Guru," he pleads, "What do you mean, 'Life is like a mountain?' " And the guru replies, "So ... maybe life isn't like a mountain?" ...

What is life? Here is a small piece I came across that you might want to tape to your refrigerator:


What is Life?
        Life is a challenge ... meet it
        Life is a gift ... appreciate it
        Life is an adventure ... dare it
        Life is a sorrow ... overcome it
        Life is a duty ... perform it
        Life is a game ... play it
        Life is a mystery ... unfold it
        Life is a song ... sing it
Life is an opportunity ... take it
Life is a journey ... complete it
Life is a promise ... fulfill it
Life is a beauty ... praise it
Life is a struggle ... grow from it
Life is a goal ... achieve it
Life is a puzzle ... solve it



Kaddish is the prayer which a mourner recites for 11 months following the passing of one's father or mother. It is recited for one month for one's brother, sister, spouse, son or daughter. It is commonly thought of as "the prayer for the dead." In reality, as we will see in looking at the words, it is an affirmation of the belief and trust in the Almighty. Here is the Artscroll Siddur translation of the Mourner's Kaddish:

"May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days, and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel, swiftly and soon... (The congregation then responds: 'Amen. May His great Name be blessed for ever and ever.') Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed is He (Congregation responds: 'Blessed is He.') beyond any blessing and song, praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. ... May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel.... He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace upon us, and upon all Israel."

As one can see, there is no mention of the deceased, death or mourning. Kaddish is an affirmation of life -- a recognition of the Almighty, a prayer that His greatness should be recognized and a request for peace and life for the Jewish people. Besides affirming or reassuring the mourner's belief in the Almighty, the reciting of Kaddish gives merit to the soul of the deceased because the one who recites Kaddish (the mourner) causes the congregation to praise the Name of the Almighty: "May His great Name be blessed for ever and ever" and "Blessed is He." There are many stories in the Talmud and the Midrash about the great benefit of this merit to the soul of the deceased in the World to Come.

A close friend confided to me that the obligation to say Kaddish not only gave him a way to show respect and gratitude for his parents, but tremendously comforted him by placing him in the synagogue in the company of other Jews twice each day.


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Torah Portion of the week

Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20 - 30:10

The Torah continues this week with the command to make for use in the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary -- oil for the Menorah and clothes for the Cohanim, the Priests. It then gives instruction for the consecration of the Cohanim and the Outer Altar. The portion concludes with instructions for constructing the Incense Altar.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And you shall command the Children of Israel that they bring to you pure pressed olive oil for illumination to keep the lamp constantly burning" (Exodus 27:20).

The Midrash comments on this verse that the Almighty does not really need the light, but you should nonetheless make a light for Him just as He makes light for you. The Midrash gives the analogy of a blind person and a person who could see who were walking together. The person with sight led the blind person the entire way. When they came to their destination the sighted person told the blind person to make a light. "I want you to do this," he said, "so you will not feel a debt of gratitude for all that I have done for you. Now you have done something for me in return."

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that from here we see what total kindness is. There are many ulterior motives a person can have when he does favors for others. The ultimate in doing kindness is to do it without any expectations for something in return. This Midrash should be our guide when we do a favor for another person. Our attitude should be totally to help someone and not expect even gratitude in return.

Many people feel strong resentment towards people who do not show any gratitude for what they have done for them. While a person should feel gratitude, one who does kindnesses for others for the sake of doing kindness will be free of any negative feelings towards someone who does not reciprocate or express gratitude. Moreover, an elevated person will go out of his way to make the person receiving his kindness feel free of any obligations towards him.


            If you drop it, pick it up.
            If you break it, fix it.
            If it rings, answer it.
            If you eat or drink out of it,
            wash it.
If you step on it, wipe it off.
If you open it, close it.
If you empty it, refill it.
If it howls, feed it.
If it cries, love it.


Candle Lighting Times

February 19
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:53
Guatemala 5:50 - Hong Kong 6:04 - Honolulu 6:13
J'Burg 6:30 - London 5:04 - Los Angeles 5:22
Melbourne 7:56 - Mexico City 6:20 - Miami 5:58
New York 5:17 - Singapore 7:03 - Toronto 5:34

Quote of the Week

Most people would sooner die than think;
in fact, they do so
--  Bertrand Russell



With Heartfelt Gratitude

Daniel & Lillian Kamis


In Loving Memory of

Reb Nussie Zemel



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