Category Archives: Parshas Tetzaveh

Parshas Tetzaveh: You Should Feel Loved – Because You Are!

Parshas Tetzaveh

You Should Feel Loved – Because You Are!

“The stones shall correspond [in number] to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, corresponding to their names. They shall be engraved like seals, each with its name, for the twelve tribes.” (Shmos 28:21)

Reb Yaakov Toisig lived in Be’er Sheva. He went to shul to daven for his father’s yahrtzeit but there were only 8 other men there. Needing one more for the minyan, he went outside. The street was empty, except for an irreligious man with long shaggy hair. Reb Yaakov approached the man and asked him to join the minyan. After many attempts at convincing him, the irreligious man finally said that he couldn’t join because he did not know how to daven. Reb Yaakov said that he would show him what to say. Then the man said, “But I don’t keep mitzvos. Will G-D even listen to my prayers?” Reb Yaakov responded, “You should know that every Jew has a lofty soul that was carved from underneath the Throne of Glory. Hashem desires the prayers of every Jew. Every tefillah is beloved by Hashem. Yours too.” Those words pierced the young man’s heart, and he joined the minyan. Those heartfelt words changed this young man’s life as he eventually became religious. (102 Stories That Changed People’s Lives, Vol 2 by Rabbi Tzvi Nakar)

Hashem’s love for Bnei Yisroel is infinite. “And now, if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples …” (Shemos 19:5). Rashi says that Bnei Yisroel will be like the treasures of the kings; like costly vessels and precious stones, which kings store away. Targum Onkelos explains that Bnei Yisroel will be more beloved before Hashem than all the other nations!

Hashem showed how much He loves us, even when we sinned and reached the 49th level of impurity. “They saw [a vision of] Hashem, and under His feet [there was something] like a brickwork of sapphire…” (Shmos 24:10). Rashi says that while the Jewish People had been enslaved in Egypt, Hashem had placed a brickwork of sapphire under His throne to constantly bear in mind their suffering (which was symbolized by the brick work). Hashem wanted to constantly bear in mind the pain and suffering that His treasured nation was undergoing while in Egypt. The bricks symbolized their affliction. After Bnei Yisroel were redeemed, the sapphire brickwork sparkled with clarity and light. There was now light and joy before HHHashem because of Bnei Yisroel’s redemption.

This week’s parsha describes the Choshen Hamishpat, the breastplate, that the Kohen Gadol wore. The Choshen contained 12 precious stones. Each stone was engraved with the name of one of the shevatim, the tribes. The names of the Avos were added as a supplement to the names of the shevatim. The letters of the Avos, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov were interspersed on the different stones. The words, “ֹשִבְטֵי יְֹשוּרֻן” were also inscribed on the stones.  These names and words that were added in addition to the names of the shevatim ensured that all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet were inscribed. Hashem answered urgent questions posed by the Kohen Gadol by causing the appropriate letters on the Choshen to be illuminated. Thus, the Choshen had to have all the letters.

The Sforno (Shmos 28:2) says that when the Kohen Gadol entered the Kodesh, the Sanctuary, wearing the names of Yaakov’s 12 sons on the Choshen, Hashem would remember their righteousness and, in their merit, bring peace and blessing to their children.

The Kedushas Levi is troubled by this. Generally, we ask Hashem for mercy in the merit of our forefathers and not in the merit of the children. Why weren’t the names of the Avos the primary engravings on the Choshen?

The Kedushas Levi gives a beautiful answer. The Kohanim were chosen by Hashem from all the other tribes, to serve Hashem. As the pasuk states,“For him [shevet Levi] did Hashem choose from all your tribes to stand and perform the service in the name of Hashem, he and his sons for all time.” (Devarim 18:5) The other shevatim may have felt less loved by Hashem. To counter that mistaken feeling that they may have had, the names of ALL the shevatim were engraved on the Choshen. The purpose was to show that all the shevatim were beloved equally by Hashem. The Kohanim were merely intermediaries between the people and Hashem.

Rav Pam zt”l said, “We see from this that every Jew, no matter what his background, lineage, or station in life, is beloved by Hashem. No Jew should ever feel that he is worthless before Hashem or that Hashem does not take an active interest in his existence and accomplishments.”

(Messages from Rav Pam by Rabbi Sholom Smith)



Parshas Tetzaveh – Special Purim Issue – The Most Powerful Weapon!

Parshas Tetzaveh – Special Purim Issue

The Most Powerful Weapon!


“Mordechai tore his garments and … cried out a great and bitter cry.” (Megillas Esther 4:1)

The evil Prime Minister, Haman, convinced King Achashverosh to annihilate every single Jew. Rashi (Megillas Esther 4:1) says that Mordechai, who was the leader of the Jews, was told about this terrible decree, in a dream. He was told that the punishment had been decreed because the Jews had bowed to the idol in the days of Nevuchadnetzar, and because they had enjoyed Achashverosh’s feast. Mordechai’s response to this news was, “And Mordechai tore his garments and clothed himself in sack and ashes; and he went out in the midst of the city, and he cried out a great and bitter cry”. The Maharzu and Eitz Yosef (Midrash Rabbah Shmos 38:4) explain that Mordechai’s “crying” refers to tefillah, prayer.

Although the actual decree of annihilation was scheduled to take place in eleven months hence, Mordechai felt that the Jews were in an exceedingly dangerous situation. He sent a message to Queen Esther to immediately approach King Achashverosh and beg him to save the Jewish People. Esther responded that there was a death penalty for anyone approaching the king without first getting permission. If she would go to the king now, she would be placing her life in danger. She felt that it was prudent to wait until the king called for her. She said that he would probably call for her sometime soon, as he had not seen her for almost 30 days. Mordechai felt that the situation was so serious that he told Esther that she should go anyway, despite the danger to her life. Esther agreed to go but requested that the Jews fast for three days beforehand. In that merit she would be successful in her mission. The last day of the fasting was the night of the first Pesach seder. If the Jews would be fasting, that they would not be able to fulfill the Torah requirement of eating matza at the seder. They would also be unable to fulfill the Rabbinic mitzva of drinking the 4 cups of wine and eating marror. Despite that, Mordechai agreed that all the Jews should fast.

Later in the Purim story, there was a turn-around of events. Mordechai was honored greatly while Haman was humiliated. The Midrash (Esther Rabbah 10:4-5) tells us what occurred. “The king said to Haman: Hurry, take the garments and the horse as you have said. Do so to Mordechai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Do not omit anything that you spoke of.”

Haman went to Mordechai and told him to put on the royal garments. Mordechai responded, “Why are you dishonoring the monarchy? Is there any man who would put on royal garments without bathing?” Haman went and sought a bath attendant but could not find one. Queen Esther had declared a national holiday, closing all the schools and stores. She wanted everyone to witness Haman’s humiliation. Since there was no bath attendant available, Haman who had previously been a bath attendant, was forced to bathe Mordechai himself. After the bath, Haman told Mordechai to put on the king’s crown. Mordechai said to him, “Why are you dishonoring the monarchy? Is there any man who would put on a royal crown without a haircut?” Haman searched for a barber but could not find one. What did he do? Haman, who had been a barber for many years, gave Mordechai a haircut.  Then Haman told Mordechai to mount the horse. Mordechai said, “I do not have the strength [to mount it], for I am old.” Haman responded that he too was also old.  Mordechai said to Haman that he had brought this upon himself.  Thereupon, Haman bent down on his hands and knees to allow Mordechai to step on him to mount the horse. Then Haman led Mordechai on the horse through the city square, proclaiming, “So shall be done to the man that the king wishes to honor!’” (Megillas Esther 6:10-11)

The Midrash continues that while Mordechai was riding the horse, he began praising Hashem. “I will exalt You, Hashem, for You have lifted me up and have not caused my enemies to rejoice over me. Hashem, I cried out to You, and You have healed me. Hashem, You brought my soul up from the grave. You have given me life that I not go down to a pit.” (Psalms 30:2–4).

Clearly, the tide was beginning to turn. It appeared that Haman’s downfall had begun. When Haman returned home, even his wife and other advisors told him that his downfall was a foregone conclusion (Megillas Esther 6:13). Yet, as soon as Mordechai completed his ride, Rashi says (6:12) that he went back to wearing sackcloth and fasting.

We would think that at this point, Mordechai would not be praying with the same intensity as before. After all, he had experienced the beginning of the tide turning. Yet, the Maharzu comments on the Midrash Rabbah in this week’s parsha (Shmos 38:4) that when Mordechai returned to sackcloth and prayer, he prayed with the same level of intensity as previously.  Mordechai’s prayer at this time, despite the onset of Haman’s downfall, was as powerful as when he had first found out about the harsh decree.


It is amazing that Mordechai was able to pray with the same deep feelings when he clearly saw Haman’s downfall quickly occurring! It is also amazing that he felt the necessity to do so! He understood that the Jews were still in danger, and that Hashem could, just as easily, turn things back around if the Jews were not deserving.


When we are in need, we turn to our most powerful weapon, prayer. Sincere prayer from the depths of our heart is very powerful and productive. Hashem does not always give us the answer that we want. However, our prayers can make a difference now, and for our future generations. Our prayers may even help one of our future descendants in need. Even if we see that our prayers are beginning to help, we must not let up. We must continue praying with the same fervor and intensity as before. We cannot take anything for granted, as situations can quickly change and turn back around.


When, with Hashem’s help, we do see salvation, we must continue our heartfelt prayers, expressing our thanks and appreciation to Hashem.