Topic: Holidays & Time Zones | Posted:February 20, 2013
On this Shabbat, we read two sections from the Torah - the actual portion of Tetzave, and an additional section from the portion of Ki Tetze (the sixth portion in the Book of Deuteronomy) known as Zachor. The word zachor means “to remember,” and this additional reading tells the story of the defeat of the Israelites at the hands of the nation of Amalek; a defeat that represents a fall in consciousness manifesting as doubt. It is no coincidence then that the portion of Tetzave is almost always read on the Shabbat before Purim, and is almost always read together with the additional reading of Zachor.
For me, it is beautiful when a verse in the Bible that appears to tell a mundane story has so many hidden secrets waiting to be revealed. The portion of Tetzave is the story about the oil for the candelabrum in the Tabernacle; however, it is not really about physical oil, nor is it about the physical Tabernacle. Rather, what we learn is that each year on this Shabbat, Moses comes to every person making a spiritual connection and plants a spark of his own soul within them. With the assistance of this spark, we can elevate our consciousness and defeat our personal Amalek, our personal doubt.
This portion begins with the Creator telling Moses, “Ve’ata tetzave et benei Yisrael,” which means, “And you shall command the Israelites.” While the word tetzave literally means “command,” the Zohar explains that in this context, it actually means “a giving of support.” So here the Creator is saying to Moses, “You shall come and be a part of them and give them support.” When we discuss Moses here, we are not, of course, speaking about the physical man; we are talking about the spiritual level he is connected to - the spiritual level of Da’at, the elevated level of clear consciousness, a consciousness that is completely connected to the Light of the Creator and to positivity. Moses was sent to assist whomever merited truly awakening the consciousness of Da’at—pure understanding and connection to the Light of the Creator.
The Talmud says that in the story of Purim, Haman, prime minister to King Achashverosh of Persia, held a lottery to figure out the best possible time to bring darkness into the world, a time to begin the total eradication of the Israelites in Shushan. The result of the lottery was that the annihilation should take place in the month of Adar, or Pisces. Haman was happy, for he knew Moses had left the world in this month, and believed that the removal of Moses from the physical world made the month of Adar a negative time for the Israelites. However, the commentators in the Talmud explain that Moses was also born on the seventh day of Adar, making the month of Adar a time of opening for miracles as well, as a truly righteous soul leaves the world on the same day it came into the world, thus completing its cycle.
The kabbalists explain that Haman knew that two realities existed in the month of Adar: the potential for darkness, and the opportunity to awaken and connect to the pure, positive consciousness of Moses. However, he believed it was possible that if the Israelites were drawn down low enough spiritually, they could fall to the opposite place, a place where their consciousness and understanding would be completely enveloped in darkness.
Purim is the cosmic window for the removal of doubt and uncertainty from our lives, and is the polar opposite of Amalek. Shabbat Tetzave guides us to make a choice in our connection to either Purim-consciousness or Amalek-consciousness. Will we connect to the birth of Moses, the rebirth of pure and strong consciousness, and the Light of the Creator with its boundless positivity and blessings? Or do we allow the awakening of Amalek, doubt, and falling into darkness? These two choices are available to us as we prepare for Purim, and we can use this Shabbat’s great gift to make a special connection with the soul of Moses in order to tip the scales so that the Light of clear consciousness outweighs the darkness of doubt. The gift of this assistance is not something we can earn; it’s not something we can even work for. But as we participate in the Shabbat of Tetzave and open ourselves up and ask for a spark of the soul of Moses, we gain true clarity and consciousness, thus being able to remove all the powers of Amalek, all the powers of fallen consciousness.
We need to appreciate the tremendous importance of Shabbat Tetzave and the reading of the additional portion of Zachor. This is the only Shabbat of the year when Moses comes with a gift for each of us. He comes to give a spark of his soul to anyone who opens him or herself to it, thereby giving us the ability to gain true clarity in preparation for receiving the tremendous Light of Purim and to remove the negative power of doubt. How important is this gift? It is essential. Only with the assistance of Moses on the Shabbat of Tetzave can we eradicate doubt and elevate to the level of Da’at; we cannot accomplish this on our own.
The Ohr HaChaim, Rav Chaim ben Atar (1696–1743), quotes the Zohar and tells us that the redemption of the first Exile came through the assistance of Abraham, the redemption of the second Exile came through the assistance of Isaac, and the redemption of the third Exile came through the assistance of Jacob. The redemption of the Exile we are currently experiencing—the world of pain, suffering, and death—will come through the merit and assistance of Moses. We can make all the effort we like to bring about this Final Redemption, but we need the assistance of the soul of Moses to take us out of our Exile—both personally and globally. Therefore, on this Shabbat, with the Creator’s help, we can elevate our consciousness to awaken within us a true acceptance and taking of responsibility for the world by receiving the assistance of the spark of the soul of Moses. In so doing, we are creating an opening for miracles and Light to flow down into our world.