Pearls of Rashi – Tetzaveh

This week we read Parshas Tetzaveh. This portion tells of many things concerning the Kohanim and the Mishkan; however, it begins by telling us of the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah every day in the Mishkan (and later in the Mikdash). In fact, the Parshah begins with the words[1], “And you (Moshe) shall command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you (Moshe) pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually.” Rashi cites the word “pure,” and explains that it means “without sediment.”

We need to understand what Rashi is adding to our understanding of this verse. Rashi teaches the beginning student how to understand every word of the Torah. The Hebrew word which the Torah uses for pure, “זך – Zach,” always means just that; free of any extraneous items, meaning pure, unadulterated. The beginning student knows this. Rashi does not seem to be adding anything that we do not already know!

The explanation is, that Rashi is telling us how the verse is to be read. The Torah’s words “pure olive oil” could also be translated “oil from pure olives.” Rashi is letting us know that the Torah is not commanding us regarding the purity of the olives, meaning that they must be clean and good looking. Rather it is telling us that the oil must be free of sediment; meaning pure olive oil.

How does Rashi know the correct reading of the verse? At the time that the Jews received this command, they were in the wilderness. There were no olive trees from which to select the best quality olives. However, they did have olive oil, which they had brought from Egypt. Hence, they were commanded to use only the very best quality oil with which to light the Menorah.

The Menorah illuminated the entire world, just as our Mitzvos do. While doing a Mitzvah, we must use only the very best we have. This includes both the best, purest items that we have, and our greatest strengths.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 11, Page 127

Mr. Sholom Moshe ben Reb Shlomo Meir
Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach,
13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 27:20.

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