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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh 5776

Parashat Hashavua: To Sanctify and Uplift

Harav Yosef Carmel

Our parasha includes many p’sukim (46 to be exact) about the inauguration of the Mishkan, which started with the Seven Days of Miluim. This topic is continued in Sefer Vayikra, in Parashat Shemini, after the laws of korbanot are discussed, as well as in Parashat B’ha’alotcha.

The structure of seven days followed by a critical eighth day is one that we find in several places in the Torah. We have seven days leading up to the brit mila on day eight. Shemini Atzeret is celebrated after seven days of Sukkot. The holiday of Shavuot is in the beginning of the eighth week after the seven weeks of sefira. We would also like to connect this to the Shemitta year. After seven years of the Shemitta cycle are repeated seven times, the Torah calls for the special year of Yovel.

Let us return to the Seven Days of Miluim. Just as the world was created in six days plus the seventh day of Shabbat, which completed creation, so too the Mishkan and the kohanim were prepared during seven days. So too, during six years of work and a seventh of sanctification, a parallel cycle is set. A landowner sanctifies himself by relinquishing his full rights of ownership, rights to debts, and involvement in his regular material-based lifestyle.

Let us try to take a deeper look at the concept of kedusha, which we usually translate as sanctity. While the main focus is usually on something that is separated from others, in our parasha we see another focus. The offerings from the special ram that were brought during the miluim are said to be sanctified, which is accompanied with the description of the process of the kohen taking these animal parts in his hands and raising and waving them (Shemot 29:24-27). A similar process is found in regard to Aharon’s raising and waving of the Levi’im, who needed to be sanctified (Bamidbar 8:11-15).

This is not a simple physical act. Rather, lifting and waving are representative of the spiritual uplifting that must accompany sanctification, whether it has to with the Mishkan or the sanctity of Shemitta. We want a Mikdash that will expose us to kedusha and inspire us towards our own kedusha. (The korbanot have a different nature, of connecting and drawing closer, but that is for a discussion on a different occasion.) We want to make use of the Shemitta experiences, which enable us to also separate ourselves from simple physicality. May we merit, with the help of everything that is kadosh within Torah and mitzvot, to be elevated ourselves.

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