1. Everything in the world is created by G-d. Since G-d is infinite, the quality of infinity is present in everything created — everything contains an infinite amount of details. However, not all these details may necessarily be openly evident. At least one thing, one purpose, must be evident, for “of everything that G-d created in His world, He did not create even one thing for naught.” Moreover, “Everything G-d created in His world, He created only for His glory.” Thus, not only does everything have a purpose, but that purpose is a very lofty one — for G-d’s glory. Since this is a lesson to be thoroughly understood by every Jew, it follows that at least one purpose can be plainly discerned in every creation — enabling one to see how it is for G-d’s glory.
In addition to this one evident purpose, there are others which require effort to discern. These range from important, general points, to less important details. And with proper effort, one realizes that everything contains an infinite number of details.
Every one of these details themselves have an element of infinity about them. For since their purpose is to add to G-d’s glory, it cannot be that a finite thing should add to the glory of an infinite being — for the finite is nothing compared to the infinite. Thus even the smallest detail contains the quality of infinity, thereby being able to add to G-d’s glory.
Time is also a creation, divided into different parts — days. Every day created by G-d contains an infinite multitude of details. Nevertheless, only one thing need be revealed — one special service appropriate to that special day. Proper effort will allow other services appropriate to that day to also becomes known.
Everything in the world comes from Torah — “He looked into the Torah and created the world.” Thus the above discussion applies to — and originates from — Torah. The Torah contains a finite number of letters. Simultaneously, it is infinite. So too with each individual letter of the Torah: Each letter has a certain, defined shape. Simultaneously, each letter is indispensable to the Torah; without one letter, the entire Torah is invalid. This is the element of infinity in each letter.
The many details in the Torah also range in order from general principles to matters which are more detailed. Just as the Torah contains an infinite multitude of things, ranging in importance from the lowest to the highest, so too every creation contains an infinite number of things, also differing in importance.
2. Today, Shabbos, as all things, (including time), contains an infinite number of aspects. It would take great effort to reveal them all. However, there are a number of aspects which are evident, needing no effort to discern.
First of all, it is Shabbos parshas Zachor and Shabbos parshas Tetzaveh. Parshas Zachor comes first, because all authorities agree its reading is a Scriptural obligation. The reading of parshas Tetzaveh is not Scripturally obligated. Moshe Rabbeinu instituted that we should read in the Torah on Shabbos, Monday and Thursday, so that 3 days should not pass without Torah.
Another aspect of this Shabbos is that it is the 13th of Adar, erev Purim. On most years, erev Purim is the fast of Esther. But when erev Purim is Shabbos (as this year), the fast is observed on the preceding Thursday. However, it is only the undesirable aspects of the fast of Esther which are displaced by Shabbos; its positive aspects remain in force on Shabbos. Moreover, erev Purim after midday already belongs to Purim.
Thus this Shabbos contains several evident aspects: parshas Zachor, parshas Tetzaveh, erev Purim, and the beginning of Purim.
The lesson from parshas Zachor: Jewish custom calls this parshah just “Zachor,” which means “Remember,” and does not emphasize the rest of the verse “Remember what Amalek did to you.” Thus we must derive a lesson from the concept of remembrance itself (without giving into the details of the actual remembrance).
The lesson is that a Jew must, first and foremost, remember his essence — that he is a Jew, different from all other people. If he wishes to be like a non-Jew, then the non-Jew himself reminds him he is a Jew. If the non-Jew is not of the righteous gentiles of the world, this reminder comes in an unpleasant form. If the gentile is righteous, then the reminder is in a more pleasing manner.
Remembering that he is a Jew inspires one to remember that “he was administered an oath at Mt. Sinai” to fulfill Torah and mitzvos. The Rambam rules that every Jew really desires to observe all the mitzvos. Thus, says the Rambam, even when a Jew is coerced into fulfilling a mitzvah, it is counted as if he did it of his own will, for his true desire is to fulfill G-d’s will.
Hence, when a Jew properly remembers his essence, and the oath he took to fulfill Torah and mitzvos, his conduct will be satisfactory.
Although this is an obvious matter, applicable to the entire year, a specially auspicious time has been set aside for a Jew to remember who he is, and what is his task in life. This special time is Shabbos parshas Zachor, from which strength is drawn the entire year.
3. The second aspect of this Shabbos is that we read parshas Tetzaveh. In addition to the lesson that must be derived from the general concept of this parshah, there is also a lesson to be learned from parshas Zachor and parshas Tetzaveh together — for on this Shabbos they are joined together, parshas Zachor following as the maftir of parshas Tetzaveh.
In every parshah after Moshe Rabbeinu’s birth, Moshe’s name is mentioned. For since it is the “Torah of Moshe,” it is only fit and proper that his name be found in every parshah. The only exception is parshas Tetzaveh, where Moshe’s name is not mentioned even once.
The reason for this can be explained simply, even to the most uneducated of Jews. When a baby is born, there is a period of time before he is given a name: for a boy, until his bris (circumcision); for a girl, until she is named at the first Torah reading after birth. Yet, the happiness (of parents, etc.) at a birth is even before the name is given. So too with Moshe Rabbeinu: First came his birth; only afterwards was he given the name “Moshe.”
Now we can understand why Moshe’s name is not found in parshas Tetzaveh. Since his name is found in the preceding parshas, and in the following parshas, it follows that the omission in parshas Tetzaveh is not to Moshe’s detriment (for in the following parshas, his name appears again). But since his name is not mentioned, his essence, which transcends a name, is found instead.
This is the connection between parshas Tetzaveh and parshas Zachor. Parshas Zachor, we have explained, is the idea of a Jew remembering his essence — that he is a Jew who must fulfill Torah and mitzvos. Parshas Tetzaveh stresses the essence of Moshe (transcending name), which connects the essence of every Jew with the essence of G-d. Moreover, both parshas emphasize the idea of fulfilling Torah and mitzvos. Parshas Zachor: That when a Jew remembers who he is, and the oath administered to him at Mt. Sinai, he then fulfills Torah and mitzvos. Parshas Tetzaveh: “Tetzaveh” is from the root “tzivuii” meaning “commandment” — the fulfillment of all the Torah’s commandments.
The idea of “Tetzaveh” — the essence of Moshe which connects a Jew’s essence with G-d’s essence — affects a Jew more deeply than the oath administered at Mt. Sinai (the idea of parshas Zachor). Although the oath reaches profound levels of the soul, it is not yet the actual essence. The “Tetzaveh” of Moshe’s essence is the very essence of each Jew.
The service associated with “Tetzaveh” is accordingly loftier than that associated with the oath. One can fulfill Torah and mitzvos in the manner of “Remember the Torah of Moshe my servant.” But then the remembrance is associated with Moshe’s name — “the Torah of Moshe.” A higher level is Torah and mitzvos connected with Moshe’s essence, transcending the idea of a name (as in parshas Tetzaveh, where Moshe’s name is not mentioned).
The performance of Torah and mitzvos in the latter fashion is with great love and joy — just as the principal joy is when a child is born, not when the name is given later.
4. Parshas Tetzaveh and parshas Zachor influence and complement each other. When we read parshas Zachor on Shabbos parshas Tetzaveh, a Jew is reminded about the idea of “Tetzaveh” i.e. parshas Zachor causes the essence of a Jew to be revealed. Conversely, “Tetzaveh” affects parshas Zachor, making one’s remembrance (“Zachor”) not just about the oath administered at Mt. Sinai, but also about his essence (“Tetzaveh”) — thereby making the remembrance that much more profound.
Indeed, the idea of “Tetzaveh” is loftier then any type of remembrance. One needs to remember something only when it is not constantly in front of him. But since the idea of “Tetzaveh” is the essence of a Jew — which is one with G-dliness it cannot be forgotten.
This, however, raises a question: If the reading of parshas Tetzaveh is the connection between a Jew’s essence and G-d, why do we need to read parshas Zachor afterwards — the idea of remembering?
However, precisely because a Jew is in a state of unity with G-dliness, he may forget about his mission in the world — to make it a dwelling place for G-d. Since he is in a state of extreme sanctity, he is apt to disregard and forget that his task is to elevate and sanctify this physical world.
This is the effect of parshas Zachor on parshas Tetzaveh. Even when bonded with G-d (“Tetzaveh”) a Jew must remember (“Zachor”) that his mission is to fulfill G-d’s will of making a dwelling place for Him in this corporeal world.
The above lends added impetus to the dissemination of Judaism and Chassidus. A Jew may think it is better for him to engage in lofty spiritual matters rather than “lower” himself to help another Jew come closer to G-d. The answer to this is that the sanctuary to G-d is made specifically of physical objects — from which the true dwelling place for G-d is made.
5. Parshas Tetzaveh discusses the different types of garments worn by the kohen gadol (high priest). Ch 28, verse 36 states: “You shall make a tzitz head-plate of pure gold, and you shall engrave on it in the same manner as the graving of a signet [the words] ‘Holy to G-d.”
Commentators discuss what the words “Holy to G-d” engraved on the tzitz refer to. Some maintain it refers to Aharon, the high priest, who wore the priestly clothes (including the head-plate), as stated: “He separated Aharon to make him holy, holy of holies.” That is, the words “Holy to G-d” written on the tzitz refer to Aharon. These opinions hold it cannot refer to the tzitz itself, for all the vestments of the high priest (not just the tzitz) were holy to G-d, as stated: “You shall make holy garments ... to sanctify him.”
Others are of the opinion that the words “Holy to G-d” refer to those garments (the ephod and choshen) on which the names of the tribes were written — meaning that the children of Israel are “Holy to G-d.”
In addition, there is a discussion of how the words “Holy to G-d” were written. The Talmud states (Shabbos 63b, Sukkah 5a): “The tzitz was in the shape of a plate of gold ... and upon it were engraved two lines: “G-d” above, and “Holy to” below. [“L-rd” was written above so that the other words (“Holy to”) should not be above G-d’s Name.] R. Eliezer ben R. Yose said: I saw it in Rome, and “Holy to G-d” was written on one line.” That is, when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, its vessels were taken to Rome. When R. Eliezer went there, he saw the tzitz, and noted that unlike the first opinion that stated the words “Holy to G-d” were written on two separate lines, the words were written on one line.
The Rambam rules that “Holy to G-d” was written on two lines, ‘Holy’ on the bottom line, and to G-d’ on the top line.” [The Rambam evidently had a different text of the Talmud, unlike ours which has “Holy to” on the bottom line, and just “G-d” on the top.] The Rambam continues to say that “If it was written on one line, it is kosher; and at times it was written on one line.”
Commentators explain that the Rambam rules like the first opinion (that it was written on two lines) although R. Eliezer ben R. Yose said he saw it written on one line. Nevertheless, since R. Eliezer did see it written on one line, the Rambam rules that if it was written on one line, it is kosher. That’s why the Rambam writes that at times it was written on one line — for R. Eliezer was a witness to it.
The Meiri states it is written on two lines (like the first opinion), and “although one of the great sages (R. Eliezer) testified that he saw it written on one line in Rome, they (the Sages) did not reject that which was known to them (that it was written on two lines) even because of visual testimony.”
It follows then, that in addition to the argument as to whether it was written on one line or two, there is an additional argument in the opinion that it was written on two lines itself. Our text has it that “G-d” was written on the top line and “Holy to” on the bottom. The Rambam’s text has it that “to G-d” was on the top, and just “Holy” on the bottom.
Furthermore, in our text itself there is a division of opinion: Some say the two lines were exactly parallel, while others maintain the word “G-d” was written at the end of the top line, and “Holy to” written at the beginning of the bottom line. In this way, one could, by reading from right to left (as one does read Hebrew), obtain the phrase “Holy to G-d” (although written on two separate lines).
Despite all these differences of opinion (how “Holy to G-d” was written, and who or what it refers to), Rashi, the commentator par excellence on Scripture, does not make any comment on the verse “You shall make a tzitz ... and engrave upon it ... ‘Holy to G-d.”
The reason for this is that Rashi’s commentary is based on the plain interpretation of Scripture, and in this framework, the verse is understood without any of the above discussion. When one learns the verse “You shall make a tzitz ... and you shall engrave upon it ... ‘Holy to G-d’,” It is plain that the words “Holy to G-d” refer to the tzitz — that the tzitz is holy to G-d.
The tzitz is different from the other priestly vestments (and therefore only it is called “holy to G-d”), for we find difference in the vestments in general: the choshen was worn opposite the heart, the efod at the back of the priest, the kesones next to the flesh, etc. The tzitz, Scripture says, “shall be on his (Aharon’s) forehead always, as acceptance for them before G-d.” Thus it is no wonder that the tzitz is different from the other priestly vestments.
Likewise, in the plain interpretation of Scripture, there is no place for discussion as to how the words “Holy to G-d” were written — on one line or two. In the plain interpretation, these words were written on the tzitz as they are written in the Torah — on one line. Therefore Rashi finds it unnecessary to make any comment on this verse.
That is in the plain interpretation. In the Talmud, as noted above, two opinions are recorded as to how it is written: on two lines, or, as R. Eliezer said “I saw it in Rome, and ‘Holy to G-d’ was written on one line.” The Rambam, despite this eye-witness testimony — from one of the greatest Sages — rules like the first opinion that it was written on two lines!
Without the Rambam’s ruling, we could have posited that after R. Eliezer’s testimony, the Sages changed their opinion. Since the Rambam rules otherwise, it is evident that even after R. Eliezer’s testimony the Sages remained of the opinion that it was written on two lines. Moreover, the Meiri says specifically that “they did not reject that which was written to them even because of visual testimony.
The reason for this is that the Sages had received the tradition, from generation to generation, that it was written on two lines. In the face of this tradition, even eye-witness testimony from one of the greatest Sages must be discounted. It must be concluded that the tzitz R. Eliezer saw was not the tzitz worn by the high priest. Had the Sages not had their tradition, R. Eliezer’s testimony would have been accepted. Since they had a tradition, the tradition cannot be rejected even because of the testimony of one such as R. Eliezer. R. Eliezer himself, however, maintained it was written on one line (for he saw it so), because he did not have the tradition the other Sages did.
R. Eliezer could have seen a different tzitz, for the tzitz was a plate of gold — and it is quite likely that people made imitation head-plates as a type of jewelry or adornment. These people wrote the words “Holy to G-d” as they wanted to — in one line, not exactly identical to the one worn by the high priest. Moreover, it is even possible that non-Jews, who greatly admired the Bais Hamikdosh and its vessels, made head-plates in imitation of the high priest’s — and made it as they liked.