Our parsha this week is Tzav. Next Shabbos, we read parshat Sh'mini. This Friday is Purim. Sunday (27 March) of next week, Shushan Purim in Jerusalem and other walled cities, is the day that we celebrate a very special Hachnasat Sefer Torah event in N'vei Dekalim in Gush Katif.
Moshe BurtMoshe Burt is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
And all of this has a common theme best expressed by the term used for IDF reserves call-up orders - Tzav Shemoneh.
In our parsha, "Tzav" is Moshe's command from HaShem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons to take up and clothe themselves in their vestments, their garments of service in the Mishkan, and to begin their daily Avodah (service and offerings in the Tabernacle). For seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah in the Mishkan. On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began their Avodah.
We are taught in our parsha about the two flames that burn continuously - the flickering light of the Menorah and the powerful flame of the Mizbeiyach (the altar where the various offerings to HaShem were brought). These two flames that burned constantly teach us that a balance must exist between strength and power and modesty and humility. These fires teach us about maintaining a consistency between enthusiasm and constancy. (Lilmod UliLamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, parshat Tzav, page 103-104) Rabbi Pliskin writes in the Growth Through Torah on our parsha that one should "view each new day as the first day of your life." (page 242) We later learn about Aaron HaKohen that his service each day was done with the same level of enthusiasm as on his first day of service in the Mishkan.
Against the background of our modern-day situation -- the possible expulsion of Jews from parts of Eretz Yisrael and its implications and consequences for all of the Jewish People -- I wonder if we can consciously and adequately contemplate the deeper meaning of the confluence of parshiyot Tzav and Sh'mini (usually a combined "double-header parsha") and Megillat Esther, with its request by Esther of the King: "If it pleases His Majesty, to allow the Jews... in Shushan to act tomorrow as they did today, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows."
Many among our Jewish brethren would deny HaShem's control of the world and seek to tailor Torah and their Jewishness to fit the ways of the nations, rather than accepting HaShem's reshut (command) over the world. Many others of our Jewish brethren, the so-called "new Jews", make no bones of their disdain for Yiddishkeit, for their Jewishness. They revile the dress and the ways of both their Eastern European predecessors and their brothers who maintain aspects of the derech today in Eretz Yisrael. Yet, they themselves act despicably on a larger level by discrediting their own right to live in Eretz Yisrael, by means of a Chillul HaShem performed before the altar of foreign powers.
For those Jews, it is an imperative to revisit the memory of Egypt (or lack thereof), of Yosef, and to examine Haman's top 10 reasons for seeking the annihilation of the Jews with the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. Neither Haman nor Hitler, may their names be blotted out, made any distinction between religious and secular Jews. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, period. You might change your name, or try to adopt some other religion, or intermarry. But, in the end, you can't run and you can't hide from the fact that you are a Jew. So, might we as well start internalizing being and acting Jewish.
And so, G-d forbid it that Jew bodily expels Jew, regardless of whether the Jew doing the expelling is a Jewish soldier, policeman, or Ariel Sharon himself by his own decree. For the goyim, the Arabs, the American government, the European Union - they are all splitting their sides with disdainful laughter at what Sharon has done and are anticipating our apparently imminent demise.
But wait, this is the season of Purim miracles. If we stand up, as a Kiddush HaShem, and do what we're supposed to do -- stand with our brothers in Gush Katif and the Shomron (as we, my friends in Beit Shemesh, are doing by the placement of a Torah scroll in the Chasdei Shimrit Community Center in N'vei Dekalim) - then HaKadosh Baruch Hu will rise up and orchestrate the defeat of this evil decree.
And may it be HaShem's will that, come this Rosh Hashanah, we will pray a prayer of thanks to HaShem for keeping our brethren in Gush Katif and the Shomron in their homes and neighborhoods, and away from the horror and Chillul HaShem of expulsion.
In the merit of our collective unity - "adat B'nai Yisrael" - our faith and actions, and the proper motivations for them, may we all be worthy of having our prayer reach Heaven, unimpeded, ungarbled. And recognizing that if we all emulate Aaron HaKohen's consistency and constancy of Avodat HaShem, may we be zochim, as Rabbi Moshe Ungar would say each Thursday evening at his Gemara shiur back in Philadelphia, in "the old country", b'ezrat HaShem, to demand, to compel HaKadosh Baruch Hu to do "what he wants to do, to bring us the Moshiach and the Ge'ula Shlaima, bimhayro b'yameinu -- speedily, in our time."
May we see an end to low, dirty politics, political equivocation, perfidy and false cheshbonot, freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael for Jonathan Pollard, and special merit for our brethren currently subject to police harassment, political interrogation and political persecution.
May we see the "Yom HaShem Al Kol HaGoyim" - achshav, chik-chak, miyad, etmol!