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Parshas Tetzaveh


The Alter Rebbe
“Pure olive oil.” The Torah identifies olives as being bitter, as the Sages say, (Eiruvin:18) “Let my food be as bitter as an olive.” This alludes to the aspect of darkness and bitterness of the Other Side (evil). Thus “olives cause one to forget seventy years worth of learning” (Horiyos:13), because forgetfulness is kelipa (an expression of evil).

But by crushing the olive — i.e., transforming the Other Side through nullification to G-dliness (“crushing the olive”) — oil comes out, that is, wisdom is attained (for wisdom, chachma, is the concept of nullification, the word chochma being also “koach mah,” nullification).

(Torah Ohr)


The Mitteler Rebbe
“And they shall take oil to you ... an everlasting light ... Aharon shall arrange it ... from evening until morning.” The words “and they shall take oil to you” refer to Moshe, i.e., the aspect of Torah-light whose light is constant, “an everlasting light.” However, when it comes to action, “Aharon shall arrange it,” and not Moshe. But this is only “from evening to morning.”

(Maamarei Admor HaEmtza’i)


The Tzemach Tzedek
“And you shall make a tzitz ... and place it on a blue thread.” The tzitz atoned for arrogance (Zevachim 88). In the seiferOrchos Tzaddikim” (Shaar ha’Boshes) it says that “if a person feels shameful both in public and in private before Hashem alone, there is nothing greater than this.” If a person is not ashamed before Hashem, but he is arrogant, it is because he conceives Hashem as being distant from him.

This is alluded to in the verse “and you shall make a tzitz.Tzitz means to see (as in, “meitzitz min ha’charachim”), i.e., the Divine service of looking Above and as a result feeling shame … “and place it on a blue thread” — Through “looking” one achieves shame (the higher level of fear of G-d) which is suggested by “blue,” as it says in the Zohar that “blue” alludes to fear.

(Ohr HaTorah)


The Rebbe Maharash
“[Remember that which was done to you on your way out of Mitzrayim by Amalek] who encountered you [or alternatively, “cooled you off”; karcha] on the way and attacked you from behind — all those that were straggling behind you — and you were tired and exhausted, and not G-d-fearing.” “In every single generation a person must see himself as if he left Mitzrayim.” But just then Amalek comes, whose sole purpose and desire is to create “coldness” and doubt about the ways of Torah. The person who searches for the true path of G-d is “tired and exhausted,” since he is “not G-d fearing,” and he gets lost on the way. All this comes from the klipa of Amalek.

(Seifer HaMaamarim 5634)


The Rebbe Rashab
“And you shall make a tzitz of pure gold and engrave it ... and it shall be on Aharon’s forehead.” The spiritual meaning of this verse is as follows: Tzitz means to see, as in “meitzitz min ha’charachim,” which is the concept of “his mazal — the source of his soul — sees.” Tzitz also means light and revelation, as it says, yatzis nizro. Generally speaking, this refers to the idea of revealing the source of the soul. And the tzitz must be “engraved” with the letters of bina (understanding), which is the level of the soul within the body. The intent here is that the source of the soul illuminates the soul as it is in the body.

But since the time of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, there is an iron separation — Amalek — that impedes the G-dly revelation. For this reason the tzitz must be “on Aharon’s forehead,” a reference to azus metzach, a holy sense of arrogance, the forcefulness of holiness. But there is still another condition — “and you shall make [the tzitz]” — that Moshe makes the tzitz, i.e., the empowerment that comes from Moshe. For through the aspect of essential self-nullification Moshe had the strength to break Amalek.

(Seifer HaMaamarim 5670)


The Rebbe Rayatz
“And you shall command Bnei Yisroel, and they shall take for you pure olive oil, crushed, to illuminate, to raise up an everlasting light.” Moshe Rabbeinu is the medium that connects the Jewish souls with Hashem, as it says in Devarim, “I stand between Hashem and you to tell you the word of Hashem.”

Accordingly we can understand the above verse: “And you shall command Bnei Yisroel” — “command,” tetzave, means to connect and to join. Moshe must connect Bnei Yisroel to his level of supernal wisdom… “and they shall take for you” — through this connection that Moshe establishes, Bnei Yisroel “will take” themselves “to you,” to the level of Moshe.

In this matter there are two types of Divine service: If the service comes through intellect — “olive oil” (oil alluding to wisdom) — then one only attains the inner level of wisdom, described as “pure.” But if the service is motivated by accepting the yoke of Heaven — “crushed” — then one achieves a higher level, described as “to illuminate” (l’ma’or), the source of the light. The purpose of both approaches, however, is the same, “to raise up an everlasting light,” to arouse and reveal the pintele Yid, the essential spark, within every Jew.

(Seifer HaMaamarim 5704)


The Rebbe MH”M
“And make a choshen mishpat (lit., a breastplate of judgement).” There are opposing ideas alluded to in the word “choshen”: (1) In the writings of the Arizal it says that “choshen” has the same letters as “nachash” (snake, a symbol of evil). (2) R’ Efraim, one of the Baalei Tosfos, says that “choshen” is numerically equivalent to “Moshiach.”

The body alludes to “nachash,” because it is called the “skin of the snake,” whereas the soul alludes to “Moshiach.”

During Exile, the idea of “nachash” is revealed, because the reason for Exile is the sins of the Jewish people, that is, the body overcoming the soul. The idea of “Moshiach,” on the other hand, is that even though he exists, he is hidden. Our Divine service is to cause the soul to overcome the body, that is, to reveal the “choshen — numerically equivalent to Moshiach” from its/his state of concealment.

(Likkutei Sichos)



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