Tetzaveh: the flames that ascend on their own

It is a pleasure to share this beautiful d’var Torah from Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild with my readers. It prompts us to ask ourselves, “How do I hold the torch of Jewish tradition? Do I simply hold it, or do I actively pass it on?”


אַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית–לַמָּאוֹר:  לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד

And you shall command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. (Ex 27:20)

For those of us who enjoy parsing bible, this very first verse of the sidra gives us a rich seam of learning. God is instructing Moses on what will happen inside the Mishkan, the portable tabernacle used for worship in the wilderness years. The sidra gives us elaborately detailed instructions for the clothing of the priests, and about the ceremony of ordination in which they will be dedicated to the service of God. The purpose of the clothes and the rituals are made clear – it is to make the priests holy.

The holiness of biblical times was not the abstract quality we think of it today, it…

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

9 thoughts on “Tetzaveh: the flames that ascend on their own”

    1. Thank you, cardinal Robbins! I can’t take credit for this pist; it’s the work of British Reform Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild. But I am delighted to introduce you to her blog. 🙂


  1. This is a very beautiful and meaningful dvar Torah. Thank you!

    On a completely personal note, Tetzaveh is the barmitzvah portion of my eldest son and my father. 20 years since my son’s barmitzvah and a mere 74 years since my dad’s, during the Blitz.

    In fact when my dad was 83, on the 70th anniversary of his barmitzvah, he asked my mum to arrange a kiddush after shul on Shabbat because he never had a “proper” barmitzvah because of the Blitz. Not many people can boast that their great-grandchildren attended their barmitzvah! 🙂


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