Torah Fax

Friday, March 10, 2006 - 10 Adar, 5766

Torah Reading: Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 - 30:10)
Candle Lighting Time:  5:39 PM
Shabbat Ends: 6:39 PM
Shabbat Zachor
One of the Priestly garments that is described in this week's parsha is the tzitz, the golden plate that the the High Priest, wore on his forehead, on which was engraved the words: "Kodesh Lashem-Holy unto G‑d."
All the eight garments that the High Priest wore had a utilitarian purpose. Either they covered his body, or they performed a service. For example, the Choshen or Breastplate that contained twelve unique jewels, each one containing the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. When an important question was asked of G‑d, the letters engraved in the stones of the Breastplate would light up and provide G‑d's response.
However, the tzitz, apparently served no physical function-the forehead does not normally get covered-nor did it serve any other function.
The question then is: why did the High Priest wear the tzitz? What was its purpose? Second, why did this ornament of all the priestly garments, have the words "Holy unto G‑d" engraved onto it?
The answer to these questions, based on the Talmud's statement that the tzitz atoned for the sin of brazen conduct, is as follows:
The forehead in Biblical literature is associated with chutzpah. Chutzpah is usually described as a negative trait. But, in truth, it is only through chutzpah that we have survived as a nation. It was sheer chutzpah that we did not disappear when the nations of the world wanted us to disappear. It was sheer chutzpa that we did not follow the pattern of so many other cultures that were forced into changing and surrendering.
Thus, the Talmud declares that "Israel is the most brazen of the nations." It is this chutzpah that has provided us with the ability to live, survive and flourish.
However, chutzpah can be a double-edged sword. While its sharp edges enabled us to cut through the obstacles that stood in our way as a people, it can also become an instrument that causes pain to others. Unwarranted chutzpah can get us to dominate over others and show disregard for their feelings. In short, while chutzpah is an indispensable ingredient for our survival and further growth, it can become a destructive force in our lives as well.
To ameliorate the negative side of chutzpah, the High Priest would wear the tzitz on his forehead on which was engraved "Holy unto G‑d," as a way of indicating that while chutzpah was desirable, one had to ascertain whether it was a G‑dly chutzpah, one that emanated from a heightened awareness of G‑d, or whether it was a personal ego trip that motivates us to step on everything and everyone that gets in our way.
In the days of the Temple, the High Priest's wearing of the tzitz itself generated the energies to help us express the proper chutzpah and suppress its improper form.
Now that the Temple no longer exists, it is our task to embrace the holy and G‑dly chutzpah while repudiating the ungodly forms it takes. By reading the Torah portion that deals with the tzitz, G‑d empowers us to use chutzpah the right way.
This Shabbat, in addition to the reading of the weekly parsha that contains the description of the tzitz, we also read an additional passage that deals with the commandment to remember the wicked nation of Amalek.
In light of the foregoing analysis of the tzitz we can see the connection to the reading about Amalek. The nation of Amalek's distinction was its unmitigated chutzpah that it displayed against G‑d and the Jewish people. While we embrace the G‑dly form of chutzpah, we totally repudiate its Amalekite counterpart.
Our Sages tell us that before the onset of the Redemption chutzpah will proliferate. Is this a good sign or a bad sign? The answer is that it is both.
On the one hand we have seen forces of evil assert themselves with unprecedented hubris and chutzpah. The world has condoned and even supported the attempts of terrorist murderers to destroy the Land of Israel and its inhabitants. A similar manifestation of this chutzpah can be seen in the attempts by these same murderous forces to destroy the United States and other civilized countries.
We have also seen how the young generation has rebelled against their elders in the drug culture of the last few decades.
But, at the same time, we have witnessed an incredibly positive trend, where our youth has demonstrated a desire to return to the beliefs and practices of Judaism, even when their parents were opposed to it.
And while Judaism demands of us to show respect to our parents and elders, the young generation has applied the G‑dly chutzpah to their lives.   In most cases, the parents eventually follow in the footsteps of their young, in fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy, at the end of the book of Malachi: "And he [Elijah the prophet who precedes the coming of Moshiach] will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children." Rashi translates this verse as: "he will restore the hearts of the fathers through the children." Indeed, this prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes. 
Moshiach Matters
When the Israelites were unable to endure the harsh exile in Egypt, they cried out to G‑d. Indeed, G‑d heard their cry and sent Moses to redeem them. So it is with us in our present exile. When we cry out, "Take us out of exile and bring Moshiach!" G‑d will certainly hear our cry and send the Redeemer. Moreover, merely being in a state of readiness to call upon G‑d is already enough for Him to respond, as it states in Isaiah, "Before they call, I will answer, and while yet they speak I will hear." (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Parshat Tavo, 5751)

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