Parshat Tetzaveh Summary

Parshat Tetzaveh is the 8th parsha in Sefer Shemot (also known as Exodus).

This parsha is verses Exodus 27:20 – 30:10, or a total of 101 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Aliyah 1: Exodus 27:20 – 28:12, 14 verses

Aaron and his sons (Nadav, Avihu, Elazar, and Itamar) were chosen by God to be the priests in the Tabernacle.

The High Priest (Kohain Gadol) wore these 6 special garments: Breastplate, Ephod, Robe, Tunic, Turban, and Sash.

Later readings will mention the Headplate and Linen Breeches. Thus, the High Priest wore 8 vestments when performing the divine service in the Tabernacle.

The Ephod was like a small apron that was worn over the other garments. On its shoulder straps were two stones engraved with the names of 12 Tribes.

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Aliyah 2: Exodus 28:13 – 28:30, 18 verses

The Breastplate was a small garment attached to the Ephod. The cloth part of the Breatplate was similar to the Ephod. Attached to it was an array of 12 precious stones set in 4 rows.

Aliyah 3: Exodus 28:31 – 28:43, 13 verses

The Robe was made of wool dyed the color blue-green (in Hebrew, techeilet). Attached to its hem were golden bells and pomegranate-shaped fringes.

Next the Torah describes the Headplate (in Hebrew, tzitz). It was made of gold and had engraved on it “Holy to the Lord.”

The making of the Tunic, Turban, and Sash is commanded in one verse without any additional explanation.

The ordinary priests (Aaron’s sons) wore only 4 garments: Tunic, Sash, Caps, and Linen Breeches.

Aliyah 4: Exodus 29:1 – 29:18, 18 verses

The Tabernacle and the newly appointed priests required a 7-day consecration. Moses / Moshe served as the High Priest during this 7-day period.

Moses dressed Aaron and his sons in their priestly garments. Then a bull was offered as a sin offering. And a ram was slaughtered as a burnt offering.

Aliyah 5: Exodus 29:19 – 29:37, 19 verses

Then a second ram was slaughtered as a peace offering. As is taught in Leviticus / Vayikra, a portion of a peace offering is burned on the altar and the rest is eaten.

In this case, Moses took part of the blood from the peace offering and dabbed it on Aaron and his sons. He dabbed it on their right ears, right thumbs, and right big toes. Also, some of the blood and anointing oil were mixed together and then sprinkled on Aaron and his sons.

Aliyah 6: Exodus 29:38 – 29:46, 9 verses

The worship service in the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) began and ended each day with a burnt offering. These daily offerings are known as the Tamid offering. Tamid means “always” or “continual.” This offering was brought every day including Shabbat and other holy days.

Aliyah 7: Exodus 30:1 – 30:10, 10 verses

The final reading for Parshat Tetzaveh explains the Incense Altar. This rather small altar was 1 cubit x 1 cubit square and 2 cubits high. We are not sure of the length of a cubit, but it’s between 18 – 24 inches.

It was made out of acacia wood and coated with gold. Therefore, it is often called the Golden Altar. Every day one of the priests would burn incense on it.

Parshat Tetzaveh

The Golden Altar was placed in the front section of the Tabernacle near the Table and the Menorah. Those furnishings were described in Parshat Terumah.

Haftarah Summary

The haftarah for Parshat Tetzaveh is found in Ezekiel 43:10-27. In a stunning vision, Ezekiel saw the temple that will be built in the future. The passage included in the haftarah is about the dimensions of the Altar and how it should be dedicated.

Further Reading

I’ve written other articles about Parshat Tetzaveh, including this one that asks some questions about the priestly garments.

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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