By Talia Davis

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia CCThis Torah portion deals mainly with the processes and garments of the Kohanim, the priests, and the Kohen Gadol, the high priest. It starts out telling Moses to make sure he gets pure olive oil from the Children of Israel (one drash says that when referring only to the men, they say "Children" vs. "People" of Israel) for the menorah, and Aaron was charged with making sure the menorah stayed lit.

The next part of the parasha details the priestly garments that were required. It is unusual for the Torah to go into so much detail and therefore, this part of the portion is very unique. So, while serving in the sanctuary, the Kohanim wore:

  • A full-length linen tunic called a ketonet,
  • linen breeches called michnasayim,
  • a linen turban called a mitznefet or migba'at,
  • and finally a long sash, wrapped above the waist called an avnet.

The Kohen Gadol had additional accoutrements. In addition to the above, the Torah says he wore:

  • an apron-like garment that had purple, blue, red (dyed) wool, linen, and gold thread called an ephod,
  • a breastplate inset with twelve precious stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel, called a choshen,
  • a robe made of blue wool with gold bells and pomegranate-shaped tassels on the hem called a me'il,
  • and finally a golden crown to be worn on the head that is inscribed "Holy to G-d," the tzitz.

The last part of Tetzaveh is where G-d gives instructions about how Aaron and his four sons -- Nadav, Avihu, Elazar, and Itamar -- should be initiated into the priesthood. It is a seven-day initiation process. Also, Tetzaveh instructs them in how to make the Golden Altar on which incense was burned. These instructions are down to the cubit!

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