Follow the Priest
Rabbi David Katz
A strange occurrence takes place in our Parsha involving seemingly out of place episodes based on the linear properties of time. Simply put, sometimes the Torah does not obviously follow a steady flow of linear time, and has its own agenda as to when, why, where, who, etc. Of course the Torah does have many points of view, and the position that claims an out of order Torah is the view of the Bible Commentator Rashi; while it should be known [that in this instance at least] that the Ramban argues, and explains logically why a linear theme makes sense even within the scope of time. An example of such behavior and a topic that I nearly based the article on is Jethro; for the same linear-time-issues belong to Jethro and his relationship to Sinai. Did he become a Ger before or after Sinai? The difference being that if it was before Sinai, then his Ger-ness is that of Toshav, and an amazing discovery commences that a Noahide could bring the exceptional sacrifice known as a Shlamim! Of course if he converted to Judaism/or became a Ger after Sinai, the Noahide would be limited to bringing an Olah. However for the duration of the article, we will investigate the same time warp issue concerning the anointing of the Priests. Logic says they were anointed in the end of Pekudei, while it is only in our Parsha where the actual ceremony takes place. Rashi says it belonged in Pekudei yet is listed here, while the Ramban says it is in our Parsha, for the Priests needed to learn about the offerings as a part of their inauguration.
The Priests are thus anointed in the Parsha, picking up from where we left off with the three elements of the Mishkan, which as was stated is very much [more than] symbolic of the Four Craftsmen of Redemption, Ben David, Ben Yosef, Elijah, and the Righteous Priest, for Targum Yonaton quotes that the three aspects of the Mishkan represent a) the anointer b) King Messiah c) High Priest d) and the son of Efraim – who comes with Sanhedrin; thus you have the promised return of a full Torah government. And here we are with the Priests – Aaron and FOUR sons receiving their oil and eternal covenant with God as Priests to work the Mishkan along with the first and second Temples. This is to the obvious exclusion of the Third Temple, which any student of Ezekiel's Prophecy will quickly realize that the Third Temple is existentially different than anything that has ever existed before. There has always been controversy serving Ezekiel's Book, and it was even considered being removed from Tanach proper at one time…remember that Ezekiel was killed over mysterious matters. Perhaps the underlying theme that connects all dots in Torah, is the secrets of the End, the secrets of the Priests, which Ezekiel is not only lacking in this department, he is its author!
If anyone has ever visited the Winchester Museum in California, you would be aware of its odd eccentricities. For example, in the museum there is a cabinet, and upon opening it, you will soon realize that you have just founded a completely separate wing of the mansion, such that without finding the innocuous cabinet, this wing would remain utterly dormant. Torah can become the same way, and it is for this reason most that the Ger is so precious to Hashem. He holds the keys to the doors hidden vaults. The Jew is trained to look for golden arches in Torah; let's hear about Abraham the first Jew! And Moses' Torah revelations! And how Elijah saved Israel! Etc. etc. What many don't realize is that these stories are a minute part of the Torah, and it is the Ger that brings to life the entire Torah. A Ger could ask what was the peripheral of Abraham like [which by the way he was NOT the first Jew, he was the first Ger Tzedek, and only Ger Torah would illuminate this fact], or was there Torah before Moses went up to Sinai? The answers are always shocking, but the good news is that these aren't new answers, God forbid; these are answers that have sat collecting dust for centuries because there was nobody around to ask the hard questions. As much as the Jews have sought their golden arches, it is in our days now, that the keys have come back to the Torah.
One of the biggest keys is the nature of the Priesthood. What is a Priest? Where does it come from? Was Malki Tzedek a real Priest [as every religion has taken from Malki Tzedek, his priesthood, and the priesthood in general to make it into an idolatry and an enigma in the Torah, to which the Jews simply keep it ignorantly basic as an inappropriate response. We are to know the truth about such imperative topics in our Holy existence, especially if we are to exist together in a Third Temple, of which there will most obviously be Priests. We will be expected to know what a Priest is!]
Our Parsha possesses one of these keys, or hidden arenas of Torah, such that its contents reveal quite possibly an entire perspective of the Final Redemption and the nature of the Third Temple. As was mentioned above, Aaron and sons were anointed along with the Mishkan, and included in their ceremony was the outfitting them in their holy vestments. They were now fully clad as Priests, anointed, and ready to serve in a formal setting of holiness.
The Priests are appointed much grandeur in their vestments. Whether we marvel at the High Priest's Breastplate, or the Golden Head band branded with a Name of God, there is no shortage of interest in this department. The irony however, is that the Priests are outfitted with what most would consider the least relevant of all, that being the Sash. It is hard to imagine that such a benign element of the Priestly costume could have any importance at all, let alone the fact that it may hold the keys to Redemption?! Preposterous! Yet when Ezekiel speaks in context to the Sash, amazing things begin to happen.
To make things simple, the Sash of the High Priest is made of linen and wool, and the lesser Priests it is a Talmudic question of the reality of the lesser Sash – if it is like Aaron's or completely linen.
Ezekiel makes it clear in 44:17 that no wool may be found on the Priest, and from there, World War Three in Spirituality erupts. Are we talking about the High Priest [on Yom Kippur] or lesser Priests and thus we now know the nature of their Sash? The commentators offer their expertise, and what we walk away with is that the entire subject matter is of the Priests, and seemingly a subject matter that relates to all of the Priests! The famous Radak commentary enigmatically calls this a dispute of Torat Moshe, which is strange since per force it is not written in the Torah.
Continue down the street, we run into even more Priestly issues; one of which suggests that a Priest may not marry a widow, but only a virgin. If this is a High Priest, well, we know that…only it seems to suggest all Priests! Thus is Ezekiel stating that Priests will be elevated like High Priests? The Prophet also refers to the Priests-Levites, descendants of Zadok – to which the Arizal says Priests will become Levites and Levites Priests?! Thus the Sash has created much disarray to what we k now about many things from the Torah; so where is Ezekiel going?
Think back to Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aaron the Priest. Pinchas was not considered one of the first five anointed Priests, and therefore his Priesthood is something else, only we have never really had a time in history where we could get full glimpse of Pinchas' promised seed. It is said that Pinchas is not a traditional "High Priest" and for that reason the High Priesthood was returned to a particular distant seed of Pinchas, for Pinchas is Elijah, and he became an eternal Prophet, one who serves as the High Priest in the Temple above, serving as our "Kruv" representative. Simply put, Pinchas became a Kruv, an angelic man, he serves above, and his seed has inherited this status, beginning with his son AvYeshua. From his son onwards, the tradition went underground, and is only destined to reappear in the End of Days with the emergence of the famed Four Craftsmen. Simply put, the anomalies of the Priesthood in Ezekiel are directly attributed to Pinchas, his seed, and his role to play in the Third Temple, which we now can understand is existentially different than the Mishkan, and the first two temples.
There are many versions of the Four Craftsmen in Chazal, all close in language, only with subtle differences. Sometimes the Messiah is called ben David vs. the King Messiah, etc. One example gives not a Righteous Priest, but a High Priest. The Righteous Priest is acknowledged as Shem [yet in prayer Elijah is also referred to as the Righteous Priest] while the High Priest is a direct association with PInchas, and this being him taking his promised Messianic role that he earned [as explained by the Arizal in Parashas Pinchas] through killing Zimri and Cozbi. It would seem from the Torah surrounding these events in his Parsha, that Pinchas saved not just souls in the desert, but the integrity of the Torah itself, along with the Priesthood, Temple existence, etc. Pinchas truly was/is/will be the Messianic here, to which the Briskers explain it is fitting that Pinchas restores the Torah in the End of Days, as the Prophet Malachi states, "you should seek Torah from him, for he is an angel of Hashem/ the lips of the Priest shall safeguard Knowledge."
Pinchas' job is to bring a light to the World that has never been seen before, the sacred Hidden Light of Creation, and this is his job as the redeemer-Priest. [The Arizal explains how Pinchas contains elements of Moses and ben Joseph and David as hinted at in his name's mazal] Yet if we bring to light all that we know about the Priesthood, and follow its progression, this is something that came from a long time ago, and extends eternally into our future.
Pinchas is a reincarnation of Noah according to the Arizal's Shaar Gilgulim, and he is intimate with the common soul of Joseph and David [among others; this is what Pinchas' soul so unique, all souls are relative to his soul, the secret of the Ish Yehudi]; this level of Noah is the element that baffled Moses the most, often leading Moses to ask, "if I have found Grace in your eyes" – grace being the same letters as Noah. Pinchas knows of this grace, i.e. level of Noah, for Pinchas' name even spells "Noah –Joseph" in letters; and Pinchas brings the light of the Priest to the World, such that it began with Noah himself!
Pirkei d' Rebbi Eliezer states that Noah entered his soul into that of Shem's soul [the Arizal states often the relationship between Noah and |Shem being one soul, and Moses receiving them into his own], and when this process completed, Shem called this level of "ibur" [soul impregnation] "priest", and we see he became afterwards Malki Tzedek a Priest to God Above. This level of "ibur" spiritual in-dwelling continued from Shem into the Avot, and in particular the tribe of Judah, until the Messiah was produced and Shem met Solomon at Sinai. Simply put, the Jewish people began at Sinai, were developed through the Avot, and have been governed internally by a soul tandem of Noah and Shem, one that manifested a revelation of such at Sinai in the soul of Moses who functioned as the second of three redeemers. [Noah – Moses – Messiah; the perfection of Kruv, i.e. Pinchas/Elijah]
We all know that Shem brought the Priesthood into Abraham, and that Shem received from Noah, and therefore Shem and Noah entered a new time period called Torah [the second 2000 years of Creation] only possible through Abraham, and his Priesthood. [They were maximized in their era of "primordial (Torah) chaos" – which now needed to enter a new era of Torah. Messiah is the one that unites 6000 years of holy history.] This Priesthood developed into a Firstborn status that was to be two heads: a king and a priest. Thus there would ultimately become an Aaron and sons and a seed of David, and legacies were born. Pinchas is the unifier of the firstborn [stated by the Arizal] and is therefore called the one known as "High Priest."
We can now appreciate a little bit better the Four Craftsmen of redemption once we plug the awareness of Pinchas into our equation, for ben David and Joseph are the messianic roles that he is to play out, he is Elijah quite literally, and the Priesthood that exists in Israel from its primordial level, is expressed through Pinchas, as it went through much processes from Abraham towards Aaron, and ultimately to Pinchas. It is brought down that the Hidden Light is synonymous with the Kingdom of David, and that this light entered Israel from Shem as well, in particular with his association with the Tribe of Judah, and his daughter Tamar especially.
In conclusion, we have a strange blip on the radar of our Parsha involving Priests, and when we investigate, we find a sash that opens a big can of worms. The can of worms begins to make sense only when we explain the beginning and end of the Priesthood – in Shem and Pinchas together, both Men who operate under the title of Righteous Priest. Throw Jethro into the mix for he was the Priest of the other side, and things get very interesting indeed! [Remember we began this by commenting on Jethro] Pinchas is a reincarnation of Jethro [yes at the same time like Noah and Shem were] and he is a descendent through his seed as well.
The Priest is truly an enigmatic figure, from Shem, to Jethro, to Aaron and Pinchas. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Priest takes up the cause of the illogical and supernatural Red Heifer, for the Priest seems to defy all odds, just look to Ezekiel. Yet with the proper keys in place, a perspective of the Ger [hello Shem!] and a willingness to analyze Torah that is vague and apparently dormant, we just might make it through! The Torah certainly is a hard Book to piece together, it seems like chaos really, but with the Ger and the Jew working together in Torah, the revelation of Messiah just gets clearer and clearer – as it should be, for we are nearly there, and now more than ever a Kingdom of Priests is working with a nation of High Priests!
If the Ger represents the Urim and Tumim, then who is represented by this Sash? If a Jew can ask this question, than the Gerim have certainly brought the keys; now, if we can just open the doors to the Kruvim who guard the way…
God Willing the In-Depth Class on BOTH PARSHIOT VAYIKRA & TZAV will take place tonight Thursday March 20 11 P.M. Tzfat time - we did not change our clocks yet; limited seating!