Parshas Tetzaveh: The Rendezvous Between One and Many
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Tetzaveh, amongst the many topics discussed, Hashem commands Moshe regarding the lighting of the menorah, the bigdei kehunah (priestly garments) the kohanim will wear when serving in the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the inauguration of the kohanim into the priestly service, the korban tamid (daily offering), and the construction of the mizbayach ha’zahav (golden altar), upon which the ketores (incense) was offered daily.
Towards the end of the parsha, the pasuk says: וְנֹעַדְתִּי שָׁמָּה, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְנִקְדַּשׁ, בִּכְבֹדִי – I shall meet there (at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, v.42) with the Children of Israel, and it (the Mishkan – Rashi) shall be sanctified through my honor (Shemos 29:43).
We would expect the pasuk to say: I shall meet there with you, Moshe, and the Mishkan shall be sanctified through my honor.
How can G-d meet with the entire nation of Israel at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting? What can be learned from this seemingly strange terminology?
R’ Soloveitchik teaches, “Usually a rendezvous involves just two individuals…while here millions are involved in the rendezvous.
“Actually, in fact, originally it was between two, between HaKadosh Baruch Hu and Moshe in the Ohel Mo’ed. Later, when HKB”H commanded the Jews to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year, the rendezvous expanded to include multitudes. At that point, the Torah introduced a new concept of rendezvous, or vi’ud: one between the Almighty and enormous numbers of people. It can still be called a rendezvous because Knesses Yisrael (the assembly of Israel) appears here as an individual.
“Knesses Yisrael is not just a conglomerate, a crowd, a horde of many people. There could be no rendezvous between a multitude and an individual. A rendezvous involves the element of confidentiality, of privacy, something which cannot take place in the presence of many people. HKB”H only agreed to a rendezvous with Knesses Yisrael as an individual, as my sister, my bride (Shir Ha’Shirim 4:9). Vi’ud means an appointment, a rendezvous, when two people agree to meet in a certain place. The Ohel Mo’ed was the Tent of Meeting, the place for an appointment or rendezvous with HKB”H.
“The Mishkan was the place of meeting between HKB”H and Moshe… HKB”H also met with Knesses Yisrael as a whole in the Beis Ha’Mikdash. Klal Yisrael were able to rise to the level of spiritual greatness that ensues when HKB”H bestows His Presence upon a person. Even a plain Jew, a tailor or shoemaker, can achieve this distinction, this promise was given to every Jew.
“A Jew is someone who has a rendezvous from time to time with HKB”H. The Jew will never delay this rendezvous. He will never break or postpone this rendezvous. A Jew never says, ‘It is cold today; I would rather put on tefillin tomorrow.’ Judaism itself is a rendezvous” (Chumash Masores HaRav Shemos, p.269).
While the RS”O met with Moshe at the Ohel Mo’ed, He also met, keviyachol, with each and every individual Jew. From the greatest to the simplest, from the leaders like Moshe, to the proverbial tailors and shoemakers amongst us, Hashem is available to meet each one of us – if we want to meet with Him.
Though וְיִמָּלֵא כְבוֹדוֹ, אֶת-כֹּל הָאָרֶץ – His glory and honor fills the entire world (Tehillim 72:19), nevertheless, Hashem is prepared, waiting, ready and available to meet with each and every Jew, to dwell within us and amongst us, in fulfillment of: וְעָשׂוּ לִי, מִקְדָּשׁ; וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, בְּתוֹכָם – and make for me a Sanctuary, that I shall dwell amongst them (Shemos 25:8).
While Hashem created, creates, upholds, controls and runs the entire world, He is the Father, Shepherd, Guide and G-d of each and every one of us. While running the vast cosmos, and every single occurrence that happens in our world, He is never too busy to meet with one.
Henny Machlis’, a’h, daughter, Batsheva, relates: “When I went to kindergarten, I was four years old. I cried and my mother stayed with me all morning. The teacher told me mother, ‘We don’t do this.’ My mother didn’t leave. She said, ‘I need my daughter to be calm.’
“All of my siblings liked peanut-butter sandwiches, so that’s what my mother sent them for lunch in school. I didn’t like peanut butter, so every day she made me a tuna sandwich. For eight years, she made a tuna sandwich just for me. She would always try to make it different, adding cucumbers or onions or something tasty.
“Someone once told my mother, ‘What? You have 14 children? You think your children each get undivided attention?’ So my mother said, ‘I daven to Hashem that my children should feel loved, that my children should feel special. I have so many friends who grew up as an only child and they said, ‘We don’t even know who our parents are. They were at work all day. On Shabbos, they slept or read newspapers.’
“I’m my parents 11th child. I met someone up north a few months ago. We talked for a while, and then she asked, ‘How many children do you come from?’ I said, ‘I come from a house of 14 children.’ She said, ‘What? If I hadn’t asked you I would have thought that you’re an only child and you grew up in a mansion.’ I said, ‘I did grow up as an only child and I grew up in a mansion’” (Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup, p.226-227).
Hashem is the Father of everyone and many, and He is the caring and loving Father of each and every one, the individual.
When we keep the appointment, the vi’ud, to meet with the RS”O, each one of us as an individual and our nation as a whole, perhaps then we will merit the ultimate meeting and appointment, with binyan Bayis shlishi (building of the 3rd Temple), וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל (Shemos 29:45), And I will dwell among the children of Israel, may it be immediate and in our days.
בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,