Summary of Parshat Tetzaveh
Following the detailed commandments in last week's portion concerning the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), Parshat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10) begins with the daily mitzvah given to Aaron and his sons to kindle the menorah (candelabra) in the Mishkan with pure olive oil. Hashem describes to Moses the special garments which are to be worn by the Kohanim (priests) during their service, woven and crafted from materials donated by the people. The Torah portion then shifts its attention to Hashem's commandments regarding the melu'im, or inauguration ritual for the newly constructed Mishkan, to be performed completely by Moses for seven days. The melu'im included Moses' adorning and anointing the Kohanim, and his bringing korbanot (offerings). On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons would assume their offices as the Kohanim. After then describing the korban tamid, the offering to be brought in the Mishkan every day of the year in the morning and afternoon, the portion concludes with the command to build the last of the Mishkan's structures, the golden altar upon which the ketoret (incense) would be offered every morning and afternoon. All of these commands are carried out in the concluding portion of Exodus, Parshat Pekudei.
Every year on the Shabbat before Purim, we read a special maftir (additional Torah reading) recalling the nation of Amalek's evil attempt to annihilate the Jewish people soon after the exodus from Egypt. The rabbis chose to connect Parshat Zachor (the title of this additional reading) to the holiday of Purim because Haman, the man who attempted to annihilate the Jewish people in the Purim story, was a descendant of Amalek. Following Parshat Shekalim two weeks ago, Parshat Zachor is the second in a series of four special Shabbat readings leading up to Purim and Passover.
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