Seven-Day Itch: Tetzaveh 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How many days in a row do you need to do something good for you before it becomes an established habit? If you miss a day, does it throw you off your rhythm, or are you usually able to resume the good action the next day?

As our ancestors prepare to use the items in the Tabernacle, its altar needs some repetitive care before it is fit for use:

The Pitch: “Seven days you shall perform purification for the altar to consecrate it, and the altar shall become most holy; whatever touches the altar shall become consecrated.” – Exodus 29:37

Swing #1: “The quality of being holy can spread. Coming into contact with the ark, which is in a state of holiness, renders one holy as well. The condition of impurity may spread by contact, too. The Torah involves a belief that there are certain conditions which are invisible but which have an effect on persons and objects. The spreading of holiness by contact also confirms that the word ‘holy’ does not refer to just being ‘apart’ or ‘separate,’ as we have often taught in the past. Holiness is a powerful condition related to closeness to the divine.” – Richard Elliott Friedman, Commentary on the Torah

Swing #2: “When an object came in contact with holy objects, it became removed from the everyday, in a state resembling what we, in a sense more negative than the Bible means it, would call contamination (as in radioactivity).” – Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses

Swing #3: “The seven-day ritual period involves transitions. … [It] often stresses the rite-of-passage character of a particular ritual. … [It] often results in achieving holiness.” – Gerald A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible

Late-Inning Questions: Do you agree that holiness can spread? If so, how do you spread holiness to others? How do you know when you do?

On-Deck at TBT: We’re grateful that we’ll be able to resume in-person services beginning with tonight’s Friday night services. Please note that all attendees must wear a high-filtration mask (e.g., KF94, KN95, N95) covering their nose and mouth at all times. We look forward to seeing you in-person while maintaining safe practices.

The Big Inning at the End: One of the most appealing aspects of baseball is that, during the season, a team plays just about every day. Following one’s favorite team becomes a lovely habit, a part of one’s day. I sincerely hope that the team owners and commissioner don’t put that in jeopardy this year.

Shabbat Shalom!