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Torah Insights for the Younger Tzadikim
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Tetzaveh 5761
March 04-10, 2001 - by Reb Yosef

The Importance of Little Things

In this Parashah, God tells us how to create all the vestments to be worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) when he is performing his duties.  This is a very interesting thing in here that is worth looking at.  Our sages tell us that every single word in the Torah is important.  Sometimes, when we see words that don't make sense, that is the time to pay the most attention. 

The Torah says (Perek Chav-Khet - Chapter 28): 

 Into the Breastplate of Judgment shall you place the Urim and the Tumim, and they shall be on Aaron's heart when he comes before Hashem; and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the Children of Israel on his heart constantly before Hashem:

What does the breastplate have to do with "Judgment"?.  It turns out that the breastplate was one of the tools that God gave the Jewish people for the purpose of answering very important questions.  The Stone Edition Chumash says: 

. . . the Breastplate was folded in half to form a pouch-like pocket. Into it Moses was to insert a slip of parchment containing the Ineffable Name [according to Ramban, there was more than one Name]. This Name was called Urim, from the word for light, because it would cause individual letters of the tribal names on the Breastplate to light up; and it was called Tumim, from the word for completeness, because, if read in the proper order, these luminous letters presented complete and true answers to the questions of national import that the Kohen Gadol would ask of God (Rashi from Yoma 73b) 

Rashi was perhaps the greatest commentator of all time.  Rambam was another great commentator as well as being a physician who has been respected throughout history.  Yoma is a tractate or mesechta of the Talmud.

Ramban gives an example of how this process took place. When the Jewish people crossed the Jordan and had to undertake the conquest of the Land, the question arose which tribe should begin the war against the Canaanites. Phineas the Kohen Gadol entered the Tabernacle and posed the question.  The name Judah lit up, and also certain letters. The Kohen had to know what this combination of letters represented, because they could be placed in several orders, thus forming different combinations of words. A Divine spirit gave him the wisdom to know that the message of the Urim v'Tumim was [the tribe of] Judah shall go forth [to wage war] (see Judges 1:1-2).

  This story does not talk about a miracle like parting the Sea of Reeds or Red Sea but it is something very fascinating just the same.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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