FEBRUARY IS JEWISH DISABILITY AWARENESS MONTH
Established in 2009, led by the Jewish Federations of North America, and observed every February, it is a worldwide effort among Jewish organizations to collaborate and raise awareness to inform, break down barriers and advance policies that empower people with disabilities and foster inclusion in our national and local Jewish community.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/ttzaveh
T’tzaveh (תְּצַוֶּה — [You] Shall Further Instruct) – Exodus 27:20−30:10
You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly. – Exodus 27:20
- The children of Israel are commanded to bring pure olive oil for the ner tamid “a constantly burning light,” above the sanctuary. (27:20-21)
- Aaron and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, are chosen to serve as priests. (28:1)
- God instructs Moses to make special clothes for the priests. (28:2-43)
- Aaron and his sons are ordained in a seven-day ceremony (29:1-29:46)
- Aaron is commanded to burn incense on an acacia altar every morning and evening. (30:1-10)
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetzaveh
Connection to the Parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah in Ezekiel describe God’s holy sacrificial altar and its consecration, the parashah in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and the haftarah in Ezekiel’s conception of a future Temple. Both the parashah and the haftarah describe plans conveyed by a mighty prophet, Moses in the parashah and Ezekiel in the haftarah.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s full Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.29.19-30.10
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/ttzaveh
From the D’var Torah By: Rabbi Hilly Haber
Brazilian nun and ecofeminist Ivone Gebara writes from the frontlines of climate and economic disaster. Attuned to the plurality of pains crying out locally and echoing across the globe, Gebara weaves together a theology of ecosystem and interconnection, one that recognizes the vast webs of relationship binding all life in shared fate. Gebara offers a vision for human and ecological flourishing that starts with an honest account of communal and environmental degradation.
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
תצוה T’tzaveh – Exodus 27:20-30:10
Further Instructions: Consecration of Priests and Tabernacle by Carol Meyers, pp.473
Parashat T’tzaveh (“you shall instruct”) adds to the previous parashah’s elaborate instructions for constructing the Tabernacle complex and furnishings, by giving detailed information about the vestments for the priests (28:1-43). Most of this information concerns the sacral garments for the chief priestly official, Aaron. As the one whose priestly functions bring him closest to the invisible presence of God in the Holy of Holies, his apparel must be of the same order of sanctity as the materials used for the holiest areas of the tent shrine.
The next order of business concerns the consecration service (29:1-37). An investiture (or ordination) ceremony will be necessary to confer upon Aaron and his subordinates the requisite sanctity for approaching God and performing their priestly tasks. A supplement (29:38-46) gives advance information about the regular sacrifices that will take place at the Tabernacle, and about God’s availability there once the whole complex and its priests are sanctified.
Flanking the lengthy materials about vestments and consecration are two brief passages: one involves the oil for the daily ritual of lighting the lamps in the sacred tent (27:20-21), and the other the incense altar 30:1-10); both items are functionally related to the priests’ role.
The wealth of detail about Aaron and his sons provides a stark portrayal of how males dominated the communal sacred lives of the ancient Israelites. Only later, in parashat Vayak’heil [two portions after parashat T’tzaveh], will the minor presence of some female personnel at the communal religious shrine become apparent. There, we read about the women who are experts in making textiles (35:25-26) and “the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting” (38:8).
In contrast to the seemingly limited participation of women in the institutions of the Tabernacle or Temple, women did play a prominent role in household religious life–carrying out religious practices deemed necessary for the well-being and survival of their families, such as rituals to achieve fertility, healthy pregnancy, and safe childbirth. Reproduction in the modern world has been medicalized; but traditional societies–including ancient Israel–addressed barrenness, difficult pregnancies and births, and infant mortality via religious practices carried out in the home. Although this information almost never emerges in the Bible, archeological and ethnographic data now provide strong evidence for these essential functions of Israelite women….
Another View – by Hilary Lipka, p. 489
Certain Biblical Passages show that women served in some capacity at the sanctuary. The clearest case is that of the women attendants at the Tent of Meeting (38:8; I Samuel 2:22). Yet, in contrast to some other ancient cultures, there is no evidence of priestesses in ancient Israel. Scholars have proposed several theories to explain this absence, but none solves the mystery.
One theory is that women could not be priests because they menstruated, making them periodically ritually unclean. However, menstruation is not considered any more defiling than other causes of ritual impurity (see Leviticus 15). Priests could become ritually impure on occasion, yet once the period of impurity passed, they could go back to their priestly duties after performing the necessary ablutions. If menstrual impurity were the issue, why could women not perform communal religious functions during the rather lengthy times in their lives when they were not menstruating?
A second theory is that the absence of women reflects a division of labor along gender lines and the needs of a pre-modern, agricultural community. Because women were needed to bear and raise children and to perform essential household tasks, they could not be spared for temple service. But then why did women function as priestesses in surrounding cultures?
A third theory suggests that the women were priestesses elsewhere because they served in the sanctuaries of goddesses; but since Israel’s official religion did not sanction the worship of goddesses, there was no place in it for priestesses. However, a weakness of this theory is that priestesses in other ancient cultures served in sanctuaries of gods and goddesses alike.
A fourth theory suggests that excluding women from the priesthood meant to distinguish Israel from her neighbors, who often employed women in rituals of a sexual nature. Note, however, that in all the surrounding cultures, female functionaries filled a diverse number of roles, not all of which were sexual in nature. Some women functioned as priestesses; others filled maintenance and support roles or served as singers, dancers, and musicians.
A fifth theory is based on the claim that priestesses in the surrounding cultures did not conduct animal sacrifice–and that Israel followed its neighbors in this respect: women were not included because animal sacrifices constituted a central part of Israelite ritual. However, as Mayer Gruber [Professor Emeritus at the Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev] notes, pictorial illustrations and written references to women slaughtering sacrifices are extant from all over the ancient Near East (“Women in the Cult According to the Priestly Code,” 1987, n. 37).
In evaluating these theories, one should take into account the fact that many of the surrounding cultures where we find priestesses were more economically developed and socially complex than was Israel. The smaller sanctuary that likely existed in ancient Israel–and the simpler procedures there–would have limited the number of functionaries in general. Furthermore, while the Bible legitimizes only male priests (from Aaron’s family), Israelite religion was surely more complex than what the text describes. Women probably had more roles in local sanctuaries than the Bible records.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 11 Adar I through 17 Adar I, we lovingly remember:
Friend of Jane Kolber
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, February 11, 2022.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this Friday evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Tetzaveh (triennial part) Ex 29:19-30:10
Time: Feb 11, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Feb 11, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!