I used to teach a lot of Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons, but these days I only have one student left. As I made the shift out of Jewish education (although I still lead services in a clergy position) and into professional writing, these lessons just kind of petered out. My lone student these days is a wonderfully bright tween who I’ve had the pleasure of working with since she was about seven.
She’s always had a bit of an introspective, insightful spirit. Back in 2018, I actually wrote a blog post about some pretty great advice for creative folks she shared with me when she was only eight years old.
These days, she is interested in the properties of various precious and semi-precious stones. I don’t know much about crystals and their energies, so this is one topic that provides an opportunity for me to learn from my student. We’ve been discussing different entry points to Jewish spirituality (with such a rich culture, the Torah is just one gateway to Judaism) and crystals are an interesting one. One that happens to be featured in this week’s Torah portion.
Tetzaveh is the eighth portion in the book of Exodus, and it starts out by continuing last week’s discussion of sacred objects and their careful construction. While last week, in Terumah, the text was about the Ark of the Covenant, this week is about the High Priests themselves: Aaron, his sons, and their descendants.
“You shall bring forward your brother Aaron, with his sons, from among the Israelites, to serve Me as priests,” says Exodus 28:1. Reading this, I imagined the mean of the family standing before the whole of the nation. They would be nervous, I guess, having never done anything like this before. God is quite specific when it comes to exactly how things should be done, and the consequences for getting it wrong are dire. Case in point: In just a few chapters, Aaron’s sons will be killed for having lit a “strange fire” in the tent of meeting.
I can picture Aaron’s sons, knees knocking, muttering to themselves, “Be cool, be cool,” as their uncle, Moses, anoints them as the first generation of High Priests.
Let’s get back to the crystals, though.