Thursday, March 05, 2009

Enlarged Letter Tzadi Sofit in Parshat Tetzaveh


I've been pondering an odd letter in this week's Parshah, Tetzaveh. In Torah scrolls written by Mequbalim (Kabbalists), a possible large Tzadi Sofit appears in the word tzitz (צִּיץ), Aharon the High Priest's forehead plate, Sh'mot/Exodus 28:36.

וְעָשִׂיתָ צִּיץ, זָהָב טָהוֹר; וּפִתַּחְתָּ עָלָיו פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם, קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה

And you'll make a plate of pure gold, and engrave upon it, as the engravings of a signet/seal: HOLY TO THE L@RD.

Mishnat Avraham includes this letter in his list of enlarged ones saying only that it's a big secret. He gives no other explanation for it being enlarged.

The Machzor Vitri also includes this letter in his list of enlarged letters, but fails to mention why it may be so.

Minchat Shai says that in some Torahs the last Tzadi is large in Ashkenazi nusach but not in Sefardi at all.

The Ba'al Ha-Turim doesn't mention it.

What do you know about this letter? Aharon had to wear this plate at all times on his forehead while he performed Temple service for G@d. How did it help him, or what does it symbolize? Why the final Tzadi?

Let's look at the word "צִּיץ":
Since the letter Tzadi is a pictogram - hence its name - of a tzadiq (righteous person) bent in devotional prayer, arms raised in supplication and reception. And since the letter Yud (hand) represents the Primordial Force of Creation, the vertiable "hand of G@d". And since the letter Tzadi sofit, the final form of Tzadi, is in the shape of the tzadiq (or tzodeqet, if you are female) leaping with joy after these prayers are answered, no matter what answer...

...I'd say that Aharon's job as Kohen Gadol, as High Priest, and the job of each of us is to do just this: pray, then don't just accept G@d's answer, RECEIVE it. We all must aspire to be that upright person, leaping with joy in The Holy One.

AND, my husband (also a sofer st"m) adds his chiddush: "... that since any large letter is considered a 'doubling' for emphasis and given your idea of the tsaddik then perhaps the large tsadi on Aaron's forehead donates him as twice the tsaddik than everyone else, hence his installation as Kohen Gadol and labelling as such."

I like the idea of Aharon being chosen as first Kohen Gadol because he had the unique ability to leap into deveykut (cleaving to the Divine) regardless. He teaches us that over and over in his life story. He was the tree which surrendered to G@d's pruning like no other.

Rav Chayim David HaLevy, z"l, former Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Tel Aviv, noted that each time a letter appeared enlarged in Scripture, it indicated that G@d had done a deed of great benevolence, lovingkindness, etc.*

So it was HaShem who *made* Aharon the great leaping joyful tzadiq he was, perfect for the job...

Also, you'll notice that this is the only Parshah since Moshe Rabbeynu's birth where he doesn't appear in the text. This Parshah *so* totally belongs to Aharon!

*R’ HaLevy’s 9-Volume series of She’elot and Teshuvot (Jewish legal responsa) entitled "Aseh L’khah Rav" (In the Manner of the Rav), in Vol. 5 he begins the book with a section entitled “Quntres Torah Min Hashamaim" (Booklet of Heavenly Torah). In that section beginning on page 58 you will find the piece on the big and small letters.

Based on article originally published March 09 on Facebook.
Copyright A. Barclay

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