Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin


The Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin

This week the parsha is

Happy Purim!

If you need anything for Purim call me immediately Purim starts Thursday night!
Elisheva and Leible (518) 894-3490

We hope this bulletin finds you in good health!

 Here are some interesting “Tidbits” from the schmooze table we would like to share:

  A ten-year-old Jewish boy was failing math. His parents tried everything from tutors to hypnosis; but to no avail. Finally, at the insistence of a family friend, they decided to enroll their son in a private Catholic school. After the first day, the boy’s parents were surprised when he walked in after school with a stern, focused and very determined expression on his face.

He went straight past them, right to his room and quietly closed the door. For nearly two hours he toiled away in his room – with math books strewn about his desk and the surrounding floor. He emerged long enough to eat, and after quickly cleaning his plate, went straight back to his room, closed the door and worked feverishly at his studies until bedtime.

This pattern of behavior continued until it was time for the first quarter’s report card. The boy walked in with it unopened – laid it on the dinner table and went straight to his room. Cautiously, his mother opened it and, to her amazement, she saw a large red ‘A’ under the subject of Math.

Overjoyed, she and her husband rushed into their son’s room, thrilled at his remarkable progress. “Was it the nuns that did it?” the father asked. The boy shook his head and said “No.” “Was it the one-to-one tutoring? The peer-mentoring?” “No.” “The textbooks? The teachers? The curriculum?” “No”, said the son. “On that first day, when I walked in the front door and saw that guy nailed to the plus sign, I KNEW they meant business!”……………………..

 A Jew converts and becomes a priest. He gives his first mass in front of a number of high ranking priests who came for the occasion.
At the end of the new priest’s sermon a cardinal goes to congratulate him.
“Pastor Lewis,” he said, “That was very well done, you were just perfect.
But next time please don’t start your sermon with, “Fellow goyim…”………………………………..

A large family, the Pfieffers, with seven, thank G-d, healthy children, moved to America from Europe.  They were having a difficult time finding an apartment to live in.  Many apartments were large enough, but the landlords objected to such a large family.  After several days of unsuccessful searching, the father asked the mother to take the four younger children to visit the cemetery while he took the older three to find an apartment.

After they had looked most of the morning. they found a place that was just right.  Then the landlord asked the usual question:  “How many children do you have?”  The father answered with a deep sigh, “Seven … but, four are with their dear mother in the cemetery.”

He got the apartment…………………………………..

Story of the week

This explains why we forward jokes:

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, where are we?”

“This is Heaven, sir,” the man answered.

“Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked.

“Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.”

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

“Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” the traveler asked.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.”

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at! the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

“Excuse me!” he called to the man. “Do you have any water?”

“Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.”

“How about my friend here?” the traveler gestured to the dog.

“There should be a bowl by the pump.”

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

“What do you call this place?” the traveler asked.

“This is Heaven,” he answered.

“Well, that’s confusing,” the traveler said. “The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.”

“Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s hell.”

“Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?”

“No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.”


Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word.

Maybe this will explain.

When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do? You forward jokes.

When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes.

When you have something to say, but don’t know what, and don’t know how, you forward jokes.

Also to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, guess what you get?

A forwarded joke.

So, next time if you get a joke, don’t think that you’ve been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you’ve been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile.

You are welcome @ my water bowl anytime

Our Special Connection Of the week

Dolph Ageloff A”H

Dolph Ageloff passed away on the seventh portion of the Parasha Tzaveh. In that portion, the Torah decribes the construction and the  function of the Incense altar. The Incense altar had a special mixture of incense burned on it from 11 different spices. The Hebrew word for incense also means knot or bond . The spiritual function of this offering was to reveal the deepest bond the Jewish people have with G-d. The Torah says Hashem gets a pleasure from the incense offering. This pleasure reflects on G-d’s ultimate desire in his creation of the physical world we live in to reveal its G-dly source. This is accomplished through the partnership that Jews have with G-d  by studying Torah and doing the commands of G-d.  This is our oneness with G-d that is expressed through the incense offering. G-d appreciates  our people for helping to facilitate His desire and we appreciate G-d in having been given this privilege. This appreciation that we share with G-d , a vision of a Holy world, is what causes our unity with G-d.  Appreciation fosters unity because for a person to truly appreciate something they must look inward and envision themselves in the role of the giver and this  produces something shared on a deep level, a unity. The 11 spices represent different types of Jews. They were all different, some sweet, some pungent but all were appreciated and commanded to be used to create a unity of purpose to give G-d pleasure. How can we understand a little bit of the importance of appreciation that was between our people and G-d in everyday life? In order to answer this question let us see the life experiences and character of Dolph Ageloff A”H.

Dolph Ageloff was born in the 1930s in Brooklyn, New York. During the depression, he learned the importance of having a job. He worked very hard in many different jobs but found his talents were in sales. He was a truly a “people person”. He had a beautiful family and good friends.  He eventually started a stone siding business in Florida and made very funny commercials about his business. Everybody knew of him and liked him. When he talked to somebody they became his friend and he talked to many people. You see, Dolph did not just interact with people he truly appreciated them for whom they were. He would recognize their goodness even though the goodness was not so recognizable. He showed how his appreciation to his friends and family for anything they would do for him big or small. He would volunteer at social service organizations to help raise money for them because he appreciated what they were trying to do. When he recovered from an eye problem that almost made him blind, he volunteered at a nursing home running a program with seniors talking about current events because he was thankful and put his appreciation into action. Many would come to him and he became very close with them. He loved them he appreciated their goodness and bonded with them. He did that job when he was in his late 60s for over 11 years! Many of these people passed away and this hurt Dolph very much. Through Dolph’s appreciation of people and they of him, they shared life together. People of different styles and journeys bound together by the good they found in each other. A goodness that was not necessarily specific to some deed but  a shared vision to live a life full of goodness together. This give us a glimpse of the partnership of the Jewish people and G-d that was reflected in the incense offering; the desire to make a world full of harmony and true goodness.

Our Special Connections  is a project that takes the life experiences of our loved ones that have passed, and use them as a commentary on their portion of the Torah. The “Special Connection” is that your love one’s “commentary” provides an insight for people learning Torah and provides an everlasting legacy and elevation for the soul of that special person in your life! We are trying to make a special website that has these memories. Please share some memories with us of your loved ones, please call Leible at 518-894-3490.


The second story of the week “All about appreciation for a person’s life”
From the New Hampshire union leader newspaper

PAM BALES left the firm pavement of the Base Road and stepped onto the snow-covered Jewell Trail to begin her mid-October climb. She planned a six-hour loop hike by herself. She had packed for almost every contingency and intended to walk alone.

She’d left a piece of paper detailing her itinerary on the dashboard of her Nissan Xterra: start up the Jewell Trail, traverse the ridge south along Gulfside Trail, summit Mount Washington, follow the Crawford Path down to Lakes of the Clouds Hut, descend the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, and return to her car before some forecasted bad weather was to arrive. Bales always left her plans in her car, and she left copies with two friends, fellow teammates from the all-volunteer Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team.

It was Oct. 17, 2010. She’d checked the higher summits forecast posted by the Mount Washington Observatory before she left:  

In the clouds w/ a slight chance of showers

Highs: upper 20s; Windchills 0–10

Winds: NW 50–70 mph increasing to 60–80 w/ higher gusts

Bales knew that the forecast promised low clouds with some wind, but based on her experience, her plan of going up Jewell to the summit of Washington and then down the Ammonoosuc Trail was a realistic goal. Her contingency plan, if needed, was either to turn around and descend Jewell, or if she was already deep into her planned itinerary, she would forgo Mount Washington’s summit and take Westside Trail to Crawford Path and down Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.

She was eager to get out and connect with the mountains and had been waiting for a weather window, however brief, that would allow her to complete the loop. Bales knew the nuances of the Presidentials’ rugged terrain and could hear the weather’s early whispers hinting at an approaching howl. She had packed extra layers of clothing to better regulate her core temperature as conditions changed; the observatory had described conditions on the higher summits as “full-on winter.”

The hike up the lower portion of Jewell was pleasant. Bales felt excited, and her joy increased as she walked up into snowy paths. At 8:30 a.m., still below treeline, she stopped and took a selfie; she was wearing a fleece tank top and hiking pants, and no gloves or hat because the air was mild. The sun shone through the trees and cast a shadow over her smiling face. She had reconnected to the mountains.

Thirty minutes later, at 9 a.m., she took another shot of herself, after she’d climbed into colder air and deeper snows. She had donned a quarter-zip fleece top and added gloves. An opaque backdrop had replaced the sunshine, and snow shrouded the hemlock and birch.

She still smiled. Above her, thick clouds overloaded with precipitation were dropping below Mount Washington’s summit, where the temperature measured 24 degrees Fahrenheit and the winds blew about 50 mph in fog and blowing snow.

Sneaker footprints
At 10:30 a.m., as Bales breached treeline and the junction of Jewell and Gulfside Trails, the weather was showing its teeth. Now fully exposed to the conditions, she added even more layers, including a shell jacket, goggles, and mountaineering mittens to shield herself from the cold winds and dense frozen fog. She made her way alone across the snow-covered ridge toward Mount Washington, and began to think about calling it a day. Bales watched as the clouds above her continued to drop lower, obscuring her vision. She felt confined — and she noticed something. She stared at a single set of footprints in the snow ahead of her. She’d been following faint tracks in the snow all day but hadn’t given them much thought because so many people climb the Jewell Trail. She fixated on the tracks and realized they had been made by a pair of sneakers. She silently scolded the absent hiker who had violated normal safety rules and walked on.

Now, at 11 a.m., Bales was getting cold even though she was moving fast and generating some body heat. She knew she should add even more layers, so she tucked in behind a large cairn on Mount Clay. She put on an extra top under her shell jacket and locked down her face mask and goggle system. Good thing she packed heavy, she thought. And then, hunkered behind the cairn, she decided to abandon her plan to summit Washington. She would implement her bailout plan by continuing to the junction of Gulfside and Westside, turn right onto the Westside Trail and over to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, where she could head down the mountain. Having spent thousands of hours in those beloved mountains, Bales knew when to abort a plan. For her, summiting was just an option, but returning to her SUV was a requirement.

Strong gusts of wind screamed as they exited the fog at full charge and attacked her back and left side. The cloud cover had transitioned from canopy to the equivalent of quicksand, and the only thing keeping Bales on Gulfside was the sneaker tracks in the snow. As she fought with the wind and heavy sleet on the ridge, her eyes searching for the increased certainty and security of the next cairn, the set of tracks ahead of her made a hard left-hand turn off trail.

Now she felt genuinely alarmed. She was sure the hiker could not navigate in the low visibility and was heading straight toward Great Gulf. Bales stood there, stunned, as she tried to steady the emotional weight of this sudden intersection of tracks. The temperature and clouds were in a race to find their lowest point, she could see just a few feet in front of her, the winds were ramping up, and darkness was mere hours away. If Bales continued to follow the tracks, she’d add risk and time to the itinerary she had already modified to manage both. But she could not let this go. She turned to the left toward Great Gulf and called out, “Hello!” into the frozen fog.

Nothing. She called out again, “Is anybody out there? Do you need help?”

The strong westerly winds carried her voice away. She blew into her rescue whistle. For a fleeting moment she thought someone replied, but it was just the wind playing games with her mind. She stood listening 0.3 mile from the junction of Jewell and Gulfside and about a mile from Westside Trail. She turned and walked cautiously in the direction of a single set of tracks in the snow; her bailout route would have to wait.

As she carved through the dense and frozen fog, Bales continued to blow her rescue whistle. Wind gusts now exceeding 50 mph rocked her. Even with her MICROspikes on, she struggled to remain upright on the rime ice–covered rocks. She remembered that the observatory’s forecast had advised hikers to be careful with foot placement that day, as the new snow had yet to firm up between the rocks, so punching through would be an added danger. Bales had also heeded that warning by wearing spikes, but even still, a single misplacement of her boot could put her into serious jeopardy.

‘Oh, hello’
She followed the tracks gingerly for 20 to 30 yards. She rounded a slight corner and saw a man sitting motionless, cradled by large rime-covered boulders just off the Clay Loop Trail. He stared in the direction of the Great Gulf, the majesty of which could only be imagined because of the horrendous visibility. She approached him and uttered, “Oh, hello.”

He did not react. He wore tennis sneakers, shorts, a light jacket, and fingerless gloves. He looked soaking wet, and thick frost covered his jacket. His head was bare, and his day pack looked empty. She could tell that he knew she was there. His eyes tracked her slowly and he barely swiveled his head. She knew he could still move because his frozen windbreaker and the patches of frost breaking free of it made crinkling sounds as he shifted.

A switch flipped. She now stopped being a curious and concerned hiker. Her informal search now transitioned to full-on rescue mission. She leaned into her wilderness medical training and tried to get a firmer grip on his level of consciousness. “What is your name?” she asked.

He did not respond.

“Do you know where you are?” Bales questioned.

Nothing. His skin was pale and waxy, and he had a glazed look on his face. It was obvious that nothing was connecting for him. He was hypothermic and in really big trouble. Winds were blowing steadily at 50 mph, the temperature was 27 degrees Fahrenheit, and the ice pellets continued their relentless assault on Bales and the man who was now her patient.

The thought of having to abandon him in the interest of her own survival was a horrifying prospect, but she’d been trained in search and rescue, and she knew not to put herself at such risk that she would become a patient too. She knew she didn’t have much time. She went right to work. As he sat there propped up against the rocks, semi-reclined and dead weight, she stripped him down to his T-shirt and underwear. Because he wouldn’t talk and she was in such close contact with him, she gave him a name: “John.” She placed adhesive toe warmer packs directly onto his bare feet. She checked him for any sign of injury or trauma. There was none. From her own pack, Bales retrieved a pair of softshell pants, socks, a winter hat, and a jacket. He could not help her because he was so badly impaired by hypothermia. She pulled the warm, dry layers onto his body. Imagine for a moment the extreme difficulty in completing that task in that environment.

Bales next removed a bivouac sack from her pack. She held it firmly so the winds would not snatch it. She slid it under and around his motionless body, entombing him inside. She shook and activated more heat packs that she always brought with her into the mountains, reached into the cocoon, and placed them in his armpits, on his torso, and on each side of his neck. Bales always brought a Thermos of hot cocoa and chewable electrolyte cubes. She dropped a few cubes into the cocoa and cradled the back of his head with one hand, gripped the Thermos with her other, and poured the warm, sugary drink into his mouth.

‘We have to go now!’
All this took an hour before he could move his limbs or say anything. Slurring his words, he said that when he had left Maine that morning it had been 60 degrees outside. He had planned to follow the very same loop as Bales. He had walked that route several times before. He told her that he had lost his way in the poor visibility and just sat down here. Even as he warmed up, he remained lethargic. He was not actively working against her, but he wasn’t trying to help her either.

Bales recognized that he would die soon if they didn’t get out of there. She looked her patient squarely in the eyes and said, “John, we have to go now!” Bales left no room for argument. She was going to descend, and he was going with her. The wind roared over and around the boulders behind which they had hunkered down during the 60-minute triage. Bales removed her MICROspikes and affixed them onto John’s sneakers. She braced him as he stood up, shivering, and with a balance of firmness and genuine concern she ordered, “You are going to stay right on my ass, John.” This wasn’t the way she usually spoke to people, but she knew she had to be forceful now. He seemed moments away from being drawn irrevocably to the path of least resistance — stopping and falling asleep. Bales vowed to herself that this was not going to happen on her watch.

She figured that the only viable route out was back the way they’d come, back to the Gulfside Trail, turn right, head back to Jewell Trail, and then descend. That seemed like an eternity, but a half-mile to the top of Jewell was much shorter than the two and a half miles over to Ammo. Bales did not want to head onto Westside Trail or up Mount Washington, where she feared the storm was even more severe. There was something really unsettling about the sound the high winds made as they roared past them and, off in the distance, slammed headfirst into the western slopes of Washington’s shrouded summit cone. She had absolutely no interest in taking them closer to that action.

Visibility was so bad as the pair made their way along the ridge that they crept, seemingly inches at a time. Bales followed the small holes in the snow her trekking poles had made on the way in. She wished she could follow her earlier footprints, but the winds had erased them. Leaning into the headwinds, she began to sing a medley of Elvis songs in an effort to keep John connected to reality — and herself firmly focused.

She was moving them slowly from cairn to cairn, trying hard to stay on the trail, and trying even harder not to let John sense her growing concern. He dropped down into the snow. She turned to look and saw that he seemed to be giving up. He curled in a sort of sitting fetal position, hunched down, shoulders dropped forward, and hands on his knees. He told her he was exhausted and had had enough. She should just continue on without him. Bales would have none of it, however, and said, “That’s not an option, John. We still have the toughest part to go — so get up, suck it up, and keep going!” Slowly he stood, and Bales felt an overwhelming sense of relief.

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They had traveled just under a half a mile when Bales and her reluctant companion arrived back at the junction of Gulfside and the somewhat safer Jewell Trail. It was sometime around 2 p.m. when they started down. The sun would set in three hours. Although the trees would protect them from the wind, it was darker under the canopy. Bales switched on her headlamp as they continued their tortuous descent of the trail’s tricky curves and angles.

With only one headlamp between them, Bales would inch her way down a steeper section, then turn to illuminate the trail so he could follow. To help him along she offered continuous encouragement, “Keep going John; you’re doing great,” and sang a dose of songs from the 1960s. Their descent was arduous, and Bales dreaded that he would drop in the snow again and actively resist her efforts to save him.

Finally, just before 6 p.m., after hours of emotional and physical toil, they arrived at the trailhead, exhausted and battered. Her climb up to the spot where she located John had taken about four hours. Six hours had passed since then.

Bales started her car engine and placed the frozen clothing she had taken off John high on the mountain inside so that the heater could thaw them. She realized he had no extra clothing with him.

“Why don’t you have extra dry clothes and food in your car?” she asked.

“I just borrowed it,” he told her. Several minutes later, he put his now-dry clothes back on and returned the ones Bales had dressed him in up on the ridge.

“Why didn’t you check the weather forecast dressed like that?” she asked him again as she had up on the ridge. He didn’t answer. He just thanked her, got into his car, and drove across the empty lot toward the exit. It was right around that time, at 6:07 p.m., the Mount Washington Observatory clocked its highest wind gust of the day at 88 mph.

Standing there astonished and alone in the darkness, Bales said to no one, “What the @#$% just happened?”

‘I am getting help’
Bales would not get an answer until a week later, when the president of her rescue group, Allan Clark, received a letter in the mail, and a donation tucked between the folds.

I hope this reaches the right group of rescuers. This is hard to do but must try, part of my therapy. I want to remain anonymous, but I was called John. On Sunday Oct. 17 I went up my favorite trail, Jewell, to end my life. Weather was to be bad. Thought no one else would be there, I was dressed to go quickly. Next thing I knew this lady was talking to me, changing my clothes, talking to me, giving me food, talking to me, making me warmer, and she just kept talking and calling me John and I let her. Finally learned her name was Pam.

Conditions were horrible and I said to leave me and get going, but she wouldn’t. Got me up and had me stay right behind her, still talking. I followed but I did think about running off, she couldn’t see me. But I wanted to only take my life, not anybody else and I think she would’ve tried to find me.

The entire time she treated me with care, compassion, authority, confidence and the impression that I mattered. With all that has been going wrong in in my life, I didn’t matter to me, but I did to Pam. She probably thought I was the stupidest hiker dressed like I was, but I was never put down in any way — chewed out yes — in a kind way. Maybe I wasn’t meant to die yet, I somehow still mattered in life.

I became very embarrassed later on and never really thanked her properly. If she is an example of your organization/professionalism, you must be the best group around. Please accept this small offer of appreciation for her effort to save me way beyond the limits of safety. NO did not seem in her mind.

I am getting help with my mental needs, they will also help me find a job and I have temporary housing. I have a new direction thanks to wonderful people like yourselves. I got your name from her pack patch and bumper sticker.

My deepest thanks,


Bales was deeply moved by the man’s gesture and his reference to the fact that she made him feel that he mattered. Bales’s selfless act and genuine humility struck a chord elsewhere. Ken Norton, the executive director of the National Alliance of Mental Health–New Hampshire, is a recognized expert on mental health issues who speaks nationally on the topic of suicide. Like Bales, he is also an avid White Mountain hiker. When I shared this story with him, he captured the gravity of Bales’s intervention on the ridge.

“John borrowed a car, got in the car, drove from Maine to Ammonoosuc Ravine, hiked to this spot where he felt like he was going to be past the point of no return, contemplating this the whole way, and along comes this guardian angel out of nowhere who force-marches him down the mountain,” he said. “It is important for Pam and others to know that 90 percent of those who attempt suicide don’t go on to die by suicide. John drove away that day and didn’t drive over to the other side of the mountain to go up the other side and finish what he started. He drove home, and a week later, he felt the need to write in an anonymous way to the president of Pemi Search and Rescue to share his immersion back into society and his life. His story represents hope and resilience.”

In the eight years since Bales saved John, she has become something of a White Mountain legend. It’s a title she never sought or wanted, but certainly one she has earned.

Some people have asked me if I tried to find John. The thought of searching for him felt wrong. As I’ve reflected more on this story and its relation to the issue of mental health, my response to the question about finding John has evolved. I have in fact found John, and he is very close by me. John is my neighbor, he is my good friend, a close colleague, a family member. John could be me.

At some point in our lives, each of us has found ourselves walking with a sense of helplessness along a ridgeline and through a personal storm. Alone, devoid of a sense of emotional warmth and safety, and smothered by the darkness of our emotions, we’ve sought that place just off trail where we hoped to find some way to break free of our struggles and strife. Sadly and tragically, some do follow through. Many are able to quietly self-rescue, and others like John are rescued by others like Pam Bales.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned through this powerful story is to be more mindful of caring for myself and seeking out rescuers when I sometimes find myself on the ridgeline, and to be more like Pam Bales when I sense that those tracks I see ahead in the snow, regardless of who may have made them, appear to be heading deeper into the storm.

Tetzaveh Aliyah Summary


General Overview: In last week’s Torah reading, Terumah, we read the details of the construction of the Tabernacle, the sanctuary in the desert. In this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh, we discover the special garments worn by the priests and high priest when serving in the Tabernacle. Following that, we read G‑d’s instructions to Moses regarding the seven-day inauguration for the Tabernacle. The portion concludes with a description of one of the vessels of the Tabernacle—the Incense Altar.

First Aliyah: G‑d commands the Jews to use the purest of olive oils for the daily kindling of the Menorah. Moses is instructed to consecrate Aaron and his sons by dressing them in special priestly garments. The Torah describes the making of the High Priest’s ephod — a reversed apron which covered the back — and its precious-stone-studded shoulder straps.

Second Aliyah: We now read about the High Priest’s Choshen Mishpat (“Breastplate of Judgment”). It contained four rows of precious stones, each row containing three stones. Artisans engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel upon these twelve stones. This cloth breastplate contained a fold wherein the Urim v’Tumim, a parchment on which was written G‑d’s Name, was inserted. The Choshen Misphat was then secured by straps which connected it to the ephod.

Third Aliyah: This aliyah describes the last two of the garments which were exclusive to the High Priest: the me’il and the tzitz. The me’il was a blue robe which was adorned with golden bells and cloth “pomegranates.” The tzitz was a golden band worn on the forehead, which was engraved with the words “Holy to G‑d.” The Torah then describes the four garments worn by both the High Priest and the regular priests: tunics, turbans, sashes and pants.

Fourth Aliyah: This aliyah prescribes the procedure for consecrating Aaron and his sons as priests. Aaron and his sons were brought to the door of the sanctuary, they immersed in a mikvah (ritual pool), and were dressed in the priestly garments. Moses then offered various inaugural sacrifices on their behalf.

Fifth Aliyah: The Torah continues describing the procedure for the offering, and the consumption of the inaugural sacrifices. G‑d commands Moses to repeat this inaugural service for a seven day period, after which the consecration will be complete. Also included in this section is a description of how future High Priests are to be inducted.

Sixth Aliyah: G‑d instructs the Jews to offer two burnt offerings daily for perpetuity; one lamb in the morning and one in the afternoon. G‑d promises to dwell in the Tabernacle.

Seventh Aliyah: This section describes the Incense Altar which stood in the sanctuary. The priests are commanded to burn incense upon this altar twice daily.

A Deeper Overview for Parashah  tetzaveh

From the Lubavitcher Rebbe

In parashat Terumah, we saw God instruct the Jewish people how to build the Tabernacle, the means by which He would dwell both in this world and within each one of us. And—since the Torah is eternal and its every word applies in a personal as well as a historical sense—these instructions in all their minutiae also tell us how to construct our own personal Tabernacle: how to make ourselves, our lives, and our sphere of influence into a “home” for God, that is, how to refine them so they can be imbued with and sustain Divine consciousness.

But once a home is built, it must be lived in. The Tabernacle itself is just an empty stage: a shell that, it is true, is optimally “configured” for spiritualizing reality, but that needs to be utilized. The connection that has been set in place must be activated. Therefore, once God has finished instructing us how to construct the Tabernacle, the next stage is for Him to tell us how to use it. After Terumah comes TetzavehTetzaveh means “you will command,” but also “you will connect.”

Thus, in parashat Tetzaveh, God describes the priests, who officiate in the Tabernacle, and how they are to be installed into this office.

True, when God gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai, He prefaced the revelation with the promise that “you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”1 On a certain level, every Jew is supposed to be a priest, a being consecrated solely to the service of God, so wholly imbued with Divine consciousness that it overtakes and encompasses him entirely.

Nevertheless, ideal as this may sound, living at such a level would in the end be counterproductive. It would undermine the purpose of creation, since God created us not to be angels who have no relation to the here and now, but to be human beings who engage in the mundane tasks of living, in order to elevate and refine all aspects of the mundane world and cause Divine consciousness to permeate all aspects of reality.

Therefore, just as creation at large functions on a duel level—heaven and earth, sun and moon, day and night, male and female, breathing out and breathing in—so must the process of bringing the Divine presence into the world reflect this duality. There must be priests and lay people. In a sense, the priests are the exception that proves the rule. They serve both as the ideal that the lay population is to strive for and the channel through which Divine consciousness is transmitted to the laity. As the former, the people are inferior to them and strive to emulate them; as the latter, they exist only to serve the people and provide them with the inspiration they need in order to accomplish their task—which is the true purpose of creation.

On the personal level, then, this parashah is important for each of us because it describes both how our priestly proxies are made into what they are and—more to the point—how we are to consecrate a portion of our personality to the sole purpose of serving God. By creating (“installing”) the priest within, we can then relate to the physical, human priest and both see him as the idealized vision of ourselves and derive through him Divine consciousness and inspiration.

The greater part of this parashah therefore deals with the process of making an individual into a priest. There are two phases in this process: vesting him in the priestly garments and performing on him the installation rites. The first half of the parashah describes the former, the second half the latter.

However, the parashah is also framed by two shorter segments that would seem to belong in the previous parashah. At the beginning of the parashah, Moses is told to prepare the oil for the lamps of the Candelabrum, and at the end of the parashah, to build an incense altar to be located in the outer chamber of the Tabernacle.

Positioning the commandment to make an incense altar at the end of this parashah is particularly unsettling. The Torah is, in effect, telling us that all the lengthy and detailed descriptions of the Tabernacle and the office of the priesthood are just a prelude or antecedent to the incense altar. Indeed, we are told in the Midrash that after “the Tabernacle and all its vessels were completed and all the installation rites were performed…the Divine presence did not descend [and manifest itself] until the incense was offered.”2

This is because the incense differs fundamentally from all the other offerings brought in the Temple; it is in a class by itself. The purpose of the other sacrifices and offerings is to elevate or refine the physical, bodily aspect our being, while the purpose of the incense is to bind our soul to God. The word for “sacrifice” in Hebrew (korban) means “[a means of] coming close,” while the word for “incense” (ketoret) means “[a means of] binding.” Whereas the other sacrifices primarily engage our four more “physical” senses—touch, sight, hearing, and taste—the incense engages our fifth, more “spiritual” sense—smell.3

The Tabernacle and the priestly office effect the indwelling of the Divine presence in the Jewish people, as is evident from the summary verses that conclude their description (just before the Torah gives the commandment to build the incense altar):

It is there [the Tent of Meeting] that I will convene with the Israelites, and it will thus be sanctified through My glory. I shall sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the [outer] Altar, and I will sanctify Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and I will be their God. They shall know that I am <G>, their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I may abide in their midst; I am <G>, their God.4

But after this, there is a yet higher level to be achieved, that of total connection between us and God, not just God dwelling within us. This is what is achieved by the incense; the incense transforms us from separate beings who are able to “host” God into beings that are no longer separate but one with God. The smell of the incense transports us to the highest level of our being, where we are virtually a part of our Creator.

Still, as we said above, the purpose of life is not merely to achieve this sublime transcendence of total Divine consciousness but to bring it into reality. This is reflected in the very interesting connection between the burning of the incense and the lighting of the lamps of the Candelabrum:

Aaron shall burn spice incense upon [the inner altar]; he shall burn it every morning, when he cleans out the lamps. Aaron shall [also] burn it when he kindles the lamps in the afternoon—a continual [i.e., daily] offering of incense before <G> throughout your generations.5

In other words, the incense was burned in conjunction with the kindling of the Candelabrum lamps. In fact, tradition tells us that the incense was actually burned in the middle of the ritual of kindling the lamps!6

There were no windows in the Tabernacle, but when the permanent Temple in Jerusalem superseded the Tabernacle it was built with windows. However, the Temple’s windows were built differently than normal windows. The windows of ancient buildings were typically built narrow on the outside and wide on the inside, in order to enable the incoming light to diffuse throughout the room. The windows of the Temple were built the other way around: wide on the outside and narrow on the inside, as if to enable the light of Temple’s Candelabrum to diffuse outward into the world.7 The purpose of the Candelabrum, thus, was to transmit the Divine consciousness embodied in the nearby incense altar and diffuse it throughout reality. In this way, God’s purpose in creation can truly be fulfilled; the whole world can attain the Divine consciousness of the Temple and thereby become God’s home.

The light of the Candelabrum accomplishes this objective because its light was simply a physical manifestation of the true spiritual light of the world, the Jewish soul: “The lamp of God is the soul of man.”8 The way our soul shines its light into the world is through our study of God’s Torah and performance of His commandments: “The commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light.”9

Just as the priests burned the incense and kindled the Candelabrum regularly as part of the daily ritual of the Tabernacle, so are we to renew our intrinsic connection with God and diffuse this consciousness to the outside world on an ongoing, daily basis. We offer our daily “incense” by reciting the Shema every morning, thereby asserting our conviction in the absolute singularity of God in creation—how there is nothing apart from Him—and by uniting with Him in the morning Amidah. We light our “Candelabrum” every day by taking this inspiration and applying it to our daily lives. Even though we must perforce retreat from the rapture and transcendent consciousness of the Shema and the Amidah, the inner point of Divinity within us—once contacted—can remain in the backdrop of our consciousness even as we go about our daily affairs. In this way, we remain connected and united with God throughout the day.

It is therefore clear why the sections describing the kindling of the Candelabrum and the incense altar frame this parashah, even though they would logically seem better situated in parashat Terumah. Together, they epitomize the message of the parashah, the actualization of the Tabernacle’s potential by the office of the priesthood. The Jew becomes totally one with God—a total member of the “kingdom of priests” and the “holy nation”—through the incense, and then transforms the world into one great Temple of God through the Candelabrum.10

As always, call us if you need anything
(518) 894-3490 Have a great Shabbos
Elisheva and Leible Morrison