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Torah Teasers Parshat Tetzaveh

Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10 )

by Moshe Erlbaum

10 challenging questions.

1. Whose name appears in almost every parsha in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers - but not in this parsha?

Moshe's name does not appear in this parsha. Parshs Tetzaveh is the only parsha in the book of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers where his name does not appear. One reason found in the Zohar (parshas Pinchas) is that Moshe told Hashem: "If You do not [forgive the Jews after the sin of the Golden Calf], erase my name from Your book" (Exodus 32:32). The words of a righteous person are fulfilled even if the conditional statement is not. Thus, even though Hashem forgave the Jews, Moshe was "erased" from parshas Tetzaveh.

2. In this parsha, which priestly garment is "braided" (avot)? What other item in the Torah is described as "braided"?

In this parsha, the chains attaching the breastplate to the vest (ephod) are "of braided craftsmanship" (Exodus 28:22). Elsewhere, myrtle branches taken on the festival of Sukkot are called "twigs of the braided tree" (anaf eitz avot) (Leviticus 23:40), since the 3-fold leaf pattern appears to be braided.

3. What unit of measurement is applied to only one object in the entire Torah?

A zeret, which measures a half-cubit, is the length and width of the breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:17). This measurement is not used for any other object in the Torah.

4. Which stone of the High Priest's breastplate is a name of a country found in the Prophets?

The first stone on the fourth row is called tarshish (Exodus 28:20). The country of Tarshish is referenced many times in the Bible, most notably when the prophet Jonah attempts to evade prophecy by traveling on a ship headed to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3).

5. What do both the High Priest's head-plate and the breastplate have in common with tzitzis?

The High Priest's head-plate, breastplate, and tzitzis each have a string of techeiles (blue) wool. The breastplate is attached to the vest (ephod) with a string of techeiles (Exodus 28:28). The head-plate is attached to the High Priest's forehead with a string of techeiles (28:37). The tzitizis are to be wound with a string of techeiles (Numbers 15:38).

6. Which term is used for the first time in this parsha to distinguish segments of the Jewish people?

In this parsha, the word shevet ("tribe") is used for the first to describe segments of the Jewish people (Exodus 28:21).

7. Of the seven species special to the Land of Israel, which two are mentioned in this parsha?

Olives and pomegranates are mentioned in the parsha. Olive oil is used to light the Menorah (Exodus 27:20), and woolen pomegranates are attached to the bottom of the High Priest's robe (28:34).

8. What acts are done "constantly" (tamid)? (5 answers)

The following five processes are done "constantly" (tamid): (1) The Menorah has one of its lamps constantly lit (Exodus 27:20). (2) The breastplate (choshen) of the High Priest is always on the chest of Aharon (28:29). (3) The head-plate (tzitz) is constantly on the forehead of the High Priest (28:38). (4) The daily offering is brought twice each day - morning and afternoon - on behalf of the entire congregation (29:38). (5) The incense is brought every day (30:8).

9. Which item described in parshas Terumah has to be "constantly present"?

The showbread is always on the golden table in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:30).

10. In this parsha, which three actions are performed "in the afternoon"?

Three services have to be performed "in the afternoon": (1) The second daily "Tamid" offering (Exodus 29:38), (2) the lighting of the Menorah, (3) and the burning of the incense (30:8).

11. What other actions in the Torah are done "in the afternoon"? (3 answers)

(1) In three places, the Torah states that the Passover offering must be brought on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nissan (Exodus 12:6, Leviticus 23:5, Numbers 9:5). (2) The make-up Passover offering is brought in the afternoon on the 14th day of Iyar (Numbers 9:11). (3) In parshas Beshalach, in response to the Jews' request for food, Hashem promises to feed them meat in the afternoon (and bread in the morning) (Exodus 16:12).

12. In what context is the Day of Atonement mentioned in this parsha?

The last verse of the parsha states that once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Aharon should bring incense into the Holy of Holies (Exodus 30:10).

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