Forehead Thinking: Tetzaveh 2017

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What do you do to practice “mindfulness”? Do you meditate? Exercise? Read? What allows you to clear your head of distractions and to focus on the task at hand?

In Terumah, our Torah portion this week, we learn that some of the Israelite priests’ clothing is held together by the headpiece, thus literally connecting the head to the rest of the body:

The Pitch: “The breastpiece shall be held in place by a cord of blue from its rings to the rings of the ephod, so that the breastpiece rests on the decorated band and does not come loose from the ephod.” – Exodus 28:28

Swing #1: “Scripture teaches the leader in Israel that when insolence and disregard of authority are rampant everywhere, he, the true leader of his people, must continue to bear with pride his Divinely-bestowed crown upon which is written, like the engraving on a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ This will serve as a counterbalance for all the insolence in this world, an acceptable atonement before the Lord.” – Rabbi Y. Lipschitz of Kalisz

Swing #2: “There were four gold rings on the breastpiece (one at each corner) and two gold rings on each of the two shoulder pieces (one ring high on each shoulder piece and one ring down low). The lower rings may have been on parts of the two shoulder pieces that went down behind the priest’s back. The blue cord would have attached there, passed around to the front side of the priest, and then been attached to the lower rings of the breastpiece, making it secure.” – Duane A. Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus

Swing #3: “[This is] an expression of ‘fastening.’ … So, too, [it’s similar to a verse from Isaiah,] ‘And the mountain range [shall become] a valley.’ Mountains that are close to each other that it is impossible to descend to the canyon between them without great difficulty, for as a result of their closeness the canyon is steep and deep, will be [flattened into] a valley of a plain, and it will be easy to traverse.” – Rashi

Late-Inning Questions: What are some of the symbolic meanings of the connection between the priest’s headpiece and breastplate, according to our commentators? Does it resemble a connection between mind and heart? How important is that kind of connection?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: First, I hope you’ll attend our Shabbat morning services this Saturday, as Joe Engel will speak on the occasion of Shabbat Zakhor (Sabbath of Remembrance). We must take every opportunity to hear Joe’s story and to pass his message to future generations.

Also, we’re excited about our Purim festivities! Join us for a Megillah reading Saturday night at 7:15PM. And then … on Sunday, join us for minyan at 9:00AM, the Megillah reading at 9:45AM, a fantastic brunch at 11AM, followed by packing Blessings in a Backpack for needy children. We are collecting food for the Kosher Food Bank. For each non-perishable food item you bring, you will receive a ticket. After each chapter of the Megillah reading, one lucky ticket will be drawn, and you could win one of many fabulous prizes!

The Big Inning at the End: What a week! Israel’s World Baseball Classic team shocked the baseball establishment by winning all three games in their opening-round pool. They advance to the quarterfinal round in Tokyo next week. Even though its players are almost all American-born Jews (and automatically eligible for Israeli citizenship, thus enabling them to represent the country), their success on the field – coupled with their mascot, the Mensch on the Bench, and wearing kippot during the singing of Hatikvah before each game – has sparked perhaps the greatest pride in Jewish baseball since the days of Sandy Koufax.

Shabbat Shalom!