Parashat Tetzaveh – 5781

By: Dr. Jeffrey Buch

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.  The case in point is our recent deep freeze, in which many of us lost electricity and water service.  Water and electricity are some of modern life’s daily essentials that we take for granted until a new reality confronts us as we huddle for warmth and struggle for lack of drinking water.  We dream of regaining the comfort of a hot shower and a cooked meal.  Yet at the same time we reflect on the blessings of life, love, family and community that are there to support us and get us through these difficult times.  This reality slaps us in the face to awaken and be grateful for normalcy.

So, how does this relate to our current Parsha?  Tetzaveh means to “command” as G-d is commanding Moshe with instructions for how the Israelites must crush olives for the oil to light the Eternal Flame of the sanctuary.  Then Moshe is commanded to follow intricate details for the creating the priestly garb and for the initiation ceremony for the Cohanim.  Finally, we are commanded in the supplemental reading for this week of Purim to remember the Evil of Amalek and to eradicate “the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.  Do not forget.”  The connection between Amalek and Purim being that Haman, the villain of Purim, is a descendant of Amalek.

Yet Tetzaveh also means to connect and to bond.  As B’nai Yisrael, we are all commanded, connected and bonded with one another and with Hashem and with Moshe as the prime example of this connection.  This connection is so often taken for granted by us in our normal day-to-day lives.  Only in moments of extreme adversity in which our normal lives are turned upside down are we so shaken to the core, that we realize our dependence on community and the G-d given comforts of our day-to-day world.

It is so important for us all to take pride and responsibility in our role of “crushing olives” to provide the oil for the Eternal Flame that illuminates our hearts and minds with G-d’s love and lessons for what it takes to have a sustainable, good-hearted and grateful community.  Maybe, just maybe, it is the symbolism found in the reverence of our rituals that can serve as a gentle and continuous reminder of what it takes to be a Holy community and a Nation of priests.  Hopefully, only once in a generation will we need such a natural disaster such as our recent deep freeze, to shake us so strongly to our core, so that we can recognize what we have each day and appreciate it… before we lose it.

And in this moment of gratitude and appreciation we are also commanded to “blot the memory of Amalek from under the heavens!”  How do we do this?  We do this with joy in our hearts, joy in our actions and by “crushing the olives” for the oil to light the Eternal Flame.  That is the flame which shines Hashem’s Light and Love onto the World so that Evil has no place to hide.  When we do the work, when we “crush the olives” for the oil to shine Hashem’s bright light onto the world, we blot the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.

Shabbat Shalom