Parashas Tetzaveh

In this week’s parashah, Hashem instructs Moshe about the procedure for installing Aharon into the position of Kohen Gadol. In connection with this topic, the Maggid presents an extended discussion of different forms of devotion to mitzvos.
Aharon’s conduct as Kohen Gadol reflects the highest form of devotion to mitzvos – focusing solely on serving Hashem, without any personal interests. Another form is where we maintain personal interests, but make a point of investing them toward a mitzvah. This form can arise, for example, in the mitzvah of honoring Shabbos. We have a personal interest in enjoying delicacies, but we can invest this interest in the mitzvah of Shabbos by refraining from delicacies during the week and designating Shabbos as the day for such delights. We discussed these two forms in a previous piece. Finally, there is the scenario where we put ourselves on the line to keep mitzvos in the face of great adversity.
Hashem, in His love for us, always arranges a way for us to earn reward for mitzvos. Thus, when He sees that we are doing mitzvos by sheer rote, without proper feeling, He sends oppressors against us to interfere with our mitzvah observance. When we persist in keeping mitzvos amidst the oppression, we earn great reward. Meantime, Hashem gives our oppressors the punishment they deserve.
The Midrash discusses the ultimate fate of Eisav, the forefather of the nation of Edom, the chief oppressor of the Jewish People. (Note that Haman, the villain of the Purim episode, was from Edom.) The Midrash relates (Yalkut Shimoni II:549):
In the end of days, when Holy One Blessed Be He brings the wicked Eisav to judgment, Eisav will enwrap himself in his cloak and sit down next to Yaakov. For Ovadiah 1:4 describes Edom setting his abode among the stars, and the term “stars” refers to Yaakov: “a star has come forth from Yaakov” (Bamidbar 24:17); “look up, please, toward the heavens, and count the stars” (Bereishis 15:5, regarding Avraham’s descendants). Yaakov will say: “My brother, do not join me. … For you would impose decrees upon me to worship false gods: if I obeyed them, I would be subject to a death penalty from heaven, and if not, you would kill me.” Eisav then descended to the netherworld, and Yaakov remained [with Hashem] by himself.
The Maggid asks: What will make Eisav think he could escape Hashem’s retribution by sitting down next to Yaakov? The Maggid answers that this act represents an attempt by Eisav to be compensated with a reprieve in return for having benefitted the Jewish People, the Bnei Yaakov – by enabling the Jewish People to earn enormous reward by standing up to his harsh decrees. He will claim that he deserves “a piece of the action.” But Eisav’s claim will be denied, for his sole intent was to cause the Jewish People evil. He (like Haman) will be brought to his downfall, and we will remain to revel in our bond with Hashem.
Purim Sameach!
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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