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Parshas Tetzaveh – Shabbos Zachor

In 1940, the American Agudas Israel organization convened a memorial gathering upon the passing of the great rabbinic leader of Eastern Europe, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, zt”I. At the gathering, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”I, described Rabbi Grodzinski’s leadership of European Jewry by comparing it to the vestments of the kohein gadol described in our parsha.

The High Priest wore a golden headband (tzitz) engraved with the words, “Kodesh LaHashem – Holy to Hashem.” The headband “shall be on his forehead always, to bring them favor before Hashem.” Another essential component of the kohein gadol’s vestments was the choshen, the breastplate that contained twelve stones representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Breastplate of Judgment was to be “on Aaron’s heart when he comes before Hashem, and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel on his heart constantly before Hashem.” Rav Soloveitchik explained that the tzitz, the golden band worn on the forehead of the kohein gadol, represents the intellect, the knowledge of Torah that a leader of Israel must possess. The choshen, the breastplate, symbolizes the heart of love, commitment and devotion to Klal Yisroel, to the tribes of Israel.

This Shabbos, Shabbos Zachar, is the Sabbath before the festival of Purim. If we were to analyze the leadership of Mordecai and Esther we would find that their leadership of the Jewish people reflected intellect and heart, Torah knowledge, and compassion for the future of the Jewish nation. G-d has given each of us the potential to be a spiritual kohein gadol, to combine both Torah learning and commitment to the Jewish people. In our daily lives we have the opportunity to wear the tzitz, the golden headband of the kohein gadol, and thereby, through the study of Torah, bring the holiness of Hashem into our daily existence. In addition, we can place the choshen, the breastplate of the kohein gadol on our hearts and strive to love every Jew. In this way we will merit to bring to fruition the glory that is Hashem’s mission for the tribes of Israel.

Rabbi Bertram L

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