Ron Wexler, Weekly Newsletter
February 16th, 2008
"Shabbat Shalom" is a weekly message, sent on Friday, that contains very short commentaries on the portion of the Bible that is read in synagogues on the corresponding Sabbath services.
Reading portion from Exodus 27:20-30:10
This reading portion deals almost exclusively withpriests, their selection, their vestments and the inauguration service by means of which they and thier offspring would become confirmed for all time as the special ministers of God.
“… And they shall be on Aaron’s heart when he comes before God” (Exodus 28:30). The knowledge that he (Aaron) bore the names of the tribes of Israel on his heart inspired Aaron and all the high priests after him to pray for the welfare of the nation. This suggests that those who bear responsibility of leadership must always pray for who depend on them, for no one can succeed without God’s help.
Rabbi Bressler points out in this portion that the hem of the priestly robe (ephod) would have bells sewn on them. As the priest enters the sanctuary with the bells on his robe, "a voice will be heard" (Exodus 28:33-35). What is the significance of these bells and their "voices"?
Rabbi Avi Weiss explains that among his many duties, the priest would offer atonement for his own sins. As it would be embarrassing for others to be present during this personal process, the bells would signal that those present should leave, allowing the priest private moments with God. At the same time it was only fair that people know when the priest was entering so they not be taken by surprise. In fact, privacy is so important that Jewish Law tells us that one should be careful to knock before entering anywhere, even one''s own home or a child''s room (Talmud -Pesachim 112a). It is these little bells of privacy and sensitivity to others that should make the Word of God so private and personal to each of us.
Rabbi Moshe Denberg pointed out in his weekly message last year that this reading portion was read on the 7th of Jewish month of Adar, the day that Moses, the greatest Jewish leader was born and passed away. His anniversary of the day of his passing always occurs close to the reading of this week’s portion. This portion is the only one that has no mention of Moshe''s name since his birth until the end of the Torah. Passing away on the same date as you were born signifies a life lived to its fullest. It suggests that one was able to live out their full potential and contribute as much as they could to the world they lived in.
Shall we dare to believe in our potential? – “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” Oliver Wendel Holmes
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