This week's parsha (tzav; with one more pasuk than the gematria of its name) ends off with (perek 8) the lengthy instructions as to how exactly to inaugurate the mishkan, including Aharon himself. A general question can be asked here; why is all this grand 'opening ceremony' necessary; just go straight into the normal daily seder of the mishkan; why the delay? Let’s answer this by introducing a concept by means of a few questions...

We have a halacha that tumah (impurity) is allowed when it comes to communal matters (it’s not ideal, but it is allowed). Thus, when certain communal sacrifices become tamei, we allow them to be used based on the above rule.

 

Now, if this is so, why did the Jews search for pure oil in the Chanuka story; surely, as we have seen, impure oil suffices for communal use?

Next question; there are two korban tamids offered each day - one in the morning and the other in the late afternoon. If for whatever reason the morning one was not offered, the afternoon one is nevertheless still offered up.

There is, however, one exception to this rule; when there is a new mizbeyach. In this case, if the morning tamid is not offered up then the afternoon one is skipped and the next day begins with the first tamid again. Why does a new mizbeyach affect things in this way?

 

The answer is a concept which itself is embedded within another concept. Here goes…

The first concept is that the physical world mirrors the spiritual world, and thus one can learn much about how the spiritual world works from the study of the physical/biological world; especially the human body. One wonder of the human body is that at the moment of creating a new life, the DNA is already encoded and laid down as to exactly what this new child will look like. It is all there from the first moment; the rest of the process is just development and watching as this plan is carried out as the baby grows. And so it is in the spiritual world; everything is laid down at the start, only for things to unfold and grow to achieve these plans later.

For example, in the creation of the world everything was created on the first day, only for each item to be placed and ‘brought out’ in its correct day (Rashi Bereishis 1;14, 24).

 

Similarly, we have the concept that ‘maaseh avos siman babanim,’ I.e. that which occurred to our forefathers in Chumash Bereishis lays down our national genes as to what will occur to us across history.

One example is that just as Yaakov went back across the river to collect every single vessel, so too in the future will every single Jew be brought back to the path of HaShem with the arrival of Moshaich, speedily in our days, please G-D. (R’ Tatz) Consequently, the start of any process is arguably the most important part, for this will define how the process will be carried out and indeed end up. In our terms, a project which is not started well is not likely to pick up and succeed. This is called 'hakol holech achar harosh' ie everything continues from the way it is started. This can be illustrated by a simple mashal; if, G-D forbid, a baby receives a cut when it is being formed inside the mother’s womb then it will turn out drastically different. And if the cut is in the initial DNA at the very beginning of the child’s creation, then there will be a huge change. However, if a teenage child were to receive that same cut, the skin would heal relatively quickly and that would be the last you’d hear of it. So too is it the case that if a ship sails one degree off course towards the end of its journey then it will not dock too far from its original planned port of arrival. But if the ship is one degree off from the start of the journey then it will end up at a very different point of destination than originally planned. The point is that when things are developing/starting off they are at their most crucial and fragile state. Thus, the gemarra Shabbes states that the mitzvos that Bnei Yisrael kept strongly from the start are still followed well, but the mitzvos we started off weakly, they continued to be kept in a weak way. And so too does Rosh Hashanah (the head/start of the year) involves a clear reprioritisation and clarification of what's important to us in life. Armed with this concept, we can now return to our original questions…

We can now understand that when, in the Chanuka story, we found ourselves at the beginning of the rededication of the beis hamikdash - a new beginning - we had to do it properly and use pure oil. So too when there is a new mizbeyach it must start off properly - with the morning tamid first. At least at the start we must ensure things are done properly. This can be used to answer our question regarding this week's sedra too; the reason why the beginning of the daily work of the mishkan had to be this 'great ceremony' might be to ensure that the Bnei Yisrael would treat the mishkan with appropriate respect, sanctity etc, and for this, the beginning had to be of such focus and importance.

Have a great Shabbes,

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