Ch. 27 of Exodus is all about the tabernacle (what a surprise, given that it’s been the theme of the last few weeks). But Karl and Daniel find a way to talk about sin, and the way that both Judaism and Christianity are reinterpreting the concept of sin in terms of modernism. You can listen to the podcast using the player below, or by subscribing through any fine podcast distributor. Daniel’s choice of midrashim is below the player.
(Midrash HaGadol) You shall make an altar . . . and you shall overlay it with copper (27:1–2)
Why copper? Just like copper tarnishes and then can be scrubbed clean, so the people of Israel, although they sin, they repent and are forgiven.
(Baal HaTurim) And you shall command . . . (27:20)
Tetzaveh is the only Parshah in the Torah since Moses’ birth in which Moses’ name does not appear (with the exception of the book of Deuteronomy, which consists mostly of a first-person narrative spoken by Moses). The reason for this is that [when the people of Israel sinned with the golden calf,] Moses said to G‑d: “If You do not [forgive them], erase me from the book that You have written” (Exodus 32:31). This was realized in the Parshah of Tetzaveh, since the censure of a righteous person, even if made conditional on an unfulfilled stipulation, always has some effect.
(Ohr HaChaim) And you shall command the children of Israel (27:20)
The word tetzaveh, “you shall command,” also means “you shall connect” and “you shall bond.” Thus the verse can also be read as G‑d saying to Moses: “And you shall bond with the children of Israel.” For every Jewish soul has at its core a spark of the soul of Moses.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe) That they bring to you pure olive oil . . . to raise an everlasting lamp . . . from evening to morning (27:20–21)
These verses contain a paradox: “everlasting flame” implies a state of perptuality and changelessness; “from evening to morning” implies fluctuating conditions of lesser and greater luminance.
For such is our mission in life: to impart the eternity and perfection of the Divine to a temporal world, and to do so not by annihilating or overwhelming the world’s temporality and diversity, but by illuminating its every state and condition—from “evening” to “morning”—with the divine light.
(The Talmud) Pure olive oil, crushed for the light (27:20)
Just as the olive yields light only when it is pounded, so are man’s greatest potentials realized only under the pressure of adversity.
(Chassidic saying) When one speaks crushing words of rebuke, it must be with the sole purpose of enlightening, illuminating and uplifting one’s fellow. Never, G‑d forbid, to humiliate and break him.