BOOK OF EXODUS
Shmot (Exodus)The Hebrew title 'Shmot' meaning names, comes from the first verse: 'These are the names of the sons of Israel.' The English name Exodus derived from the Greek meaning departure (like the word Exit) refers to the main event described in the book: the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. In the book of Exodus, we move from stories of individuals and families to the story of the Israelite nation. In Exodus, the Hebrews become a nation. The book of Exodus tells of the Israelites' enslavement, and subsequent deliverance with the 10 plagues. Moses leads the people out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea. They arrrive at Sinai, where they receive the 10 Commandments, and other rules. While Moses is on the mountain, the people build a Golden Calf. The remainder of the book describes the architectural details and the construction of a portable sanctuary, the Mishkan. The themes of slavery and subsequent redemption form the foundation for performance for numerous biblical laws. There are fifty chapters, divided into eleven parashiyot. The parashiyot of Shmot are: Shmot, Va'Era, Bo, Beshalach, Yitro, Mishpatim, Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa, VaYakhel, and Pekudei.
Tetzaveh: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That's why it's called the 'present.'
We continue with the theme that defines most of the rest of the Book of Exodus: the construction and institution of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary, that was the place of worship for the Israelites and the House of God among the people during the years of wandering in the wilderness. Parashat Tetzaveh specifically focuses on the Cohanim, the Priests who perform the rituals and sacrifices on behalf of the people. Great detailed descriptions are given of the complex ritual garments of the Cohen Gadol (the High Priest) - regally resplendent in gold and adornments of precious stones. Details are also given for the seven day period of sacrifices and rituals required to consecrate the priests for service. The Parasha ends with a short description of the golden altar upon which incense was offered and how it too is to be consecrated.
Copyright: Kolel, The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning.
These summaries and introductions are used with permission of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, Canada. Kolel is a dynamic, pluralistic, egalitarian institution where men and women engage in Jewish learning which values both traditional and liberal interpretations. Kolel is a gateway into a richer expression of Judaism for each individual, wherever their journey of Jewish discovery may take them.
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