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Weekly Torah Reading

The New Vision for Israel and Zion

By Yitzhaq Hayut-man. Parashat Tetzaveh Exodus 21:20-30:10″You shall bring forward your brother Aaron…” (28:1), in the original Hebrew “haqrev elay et Aharon aḥikha”, where the command word “haqrev!” is the same as the command “sacrifice!” – “sacrifice to Me your brother Aharon”.


This is the first command concerning regular “sacrifices” and it shows that the first meaning of Qorbansacrifice – is actually drawing near between one person and another and not just slaughter of beasts. The rules about the animal sacrifice for sanctifying the Kohanim (Priests) and for their sustenance come only later (29:1-41). Moshe and Aharon are the seventh case of brothers discussed in the Torah (after Kayin and Hevel; the sons of No’aḥ; Yishma’el and Yiẓḥaq; Ya’ạqov and Esav; Yosef and his brothers, especially Yehudah; Menasheh and Ephrayim), and in their case they reach almost ideal relationship between them.

The most rectified relationship so far, between Menasheh and Ephrayim, was settled in advance – formally the seniority was taken away from the firstborn Menashe and given to Ephrayim. But in practice, and as rectification or compensation (or if you like, sacrifice) the Children of Menasheh received the firstborn portion, an estate in the East and in the West of the Jordan River. Here Mosheh, who has the Leadership, Judgment and Prophecy, gave to Aharon and his offspring the Priesthood and management of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and eventually the Miqdash (Temple), with all the many privileges associated with it and did not try to bequeath anything to his own children.

Mosheh and Aharon started the institutionalization of the leadership of Israel,[1] as based on separation between priests (Kohanim) and prophets (Nevi’im) – the Establishment and the Anarchy. The essence of the priests’ cult is the routine, and the essence of prophecy is the specific occasion of the Divine Speech, which cannot be known ahead (though over the generation there came some preparation for prophecy, represented by the entity of “Children of Prophecy” (Bnei haNevi’im) in the time of Eliyahu (Elijah) and Elisha.

The difference in roles is demonstrated by the garments – the formal significance of the priests’ attire compared with the wild prophets. All that Eliyahu wore, at least in one occasion, was just a skin loincloth. He ran almost naked and this signified that the social status of the Navi (prophet) was temporary and marginal, but always non conventional and in certain cases also the ultimate authority.

In order to demonstrate their priestly authority the Kohanim were commanded to wear special garments, the acme of which were in the garments of Aharon – the dresses of the High Priest (Kohen Gadol).

The dress of the plain priests include Ktonet (tunic) avnet (sashes), Migba’ạt (turban) and Mikhnese Badd (linen breeches) whereas the holy garments of the Aharon and every High Priest that came later include: 1. Breeches, 2. Ḥoshen (breastpiece), 3. Efod (shoulder-pieces), 4. Meịl (robe), 5. Ketonet tashbeẓ (checkered tunic), 6. Miẓnefet (headdress), and 7. Avnet (sash), plus a ẓiẓ (frontlet) of pure gold over the headdress, which might not count as a garment. So just as the Mishkan (Tabernacle) represents seven systems within the body, also the High Priest is enveloped by seven covers.

The Ḥoshen

The most curious of the High Priest’s garments was the Ḥoshen, which is regarded by many interpreters as a communications device that enables communications between ISraqel and the God of Israel; between heavens (the multi-dimensional space) and the Earth (the limited three-dimensional space). There are admittedly arguments between the interpreters, some of whom regard the Urim veTumim as the communications equipment. The Ramban (Nachmanides), for example, wrote in Parashat Teẓaveh regarding the Urim veTumim: “the Urim veTumim were not mentioned among the works of the artisans, as was said ‘(He) made the Efod` and ‘(He) made the Ḥoshen’ and does not say ‘and (he) made the Urim veTumim‘ etc. But these are a secret revealed to Moshe by God and he wrote them in holiness and they were the works of heaven, and therefore they are mentioned by ה’ הידיעה… and Mosheh took the Urim veTumim and placed them in the Ḥoshen Mishpat after he dressed Aharon with the Efod and the Ḥoshen. And the point is that they were holy names, and through their powers the letters of the Ḥoshen shone to the eyes of the priest who is seeking their judgment”.

“And the stones shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names; like the engravings of a signet, every one according to his name, they shall be for the twelve tribes” (28:21). The High Priest who wears the Ḥoshen represents the totality of the Tribes of Israel – the Twelve Tribes and Levites amidst them surrounding the Mishkan/Miqdash. The High Priest carried the Ḥoshen, which represents the totality of the Twelve Tribes of Israel upon his heart. According to the Mey haShiloaḥ commentary, the Ḥoshen upon the heart of the priest indicates that there is no hatred in his heart towards any Israelite, because the Tribes of Israel were hewn upon his heart.

The Ḥoshen had twelve square settings in which were inlayed precious stones (crystals), each stone with its unique quality.[2] The names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel were written upon the twelve stones of the Ḥoshen. The Ḥoshen served, as noted, as a device for forming visual and textual messages – something like the screen of a portable computer (which is generally of “Liquid Crystal).[3] With the help of the Ḥoshen it was possible to single out the tribe that had guilt and from there to identify the guilty ones (as described in Joshua 7) or the reverse: to single out the tribe from which will issue the future leader and from it to choose the leader (1 Samuel 1:10).

Those who regard the Ḥoshen as communications device assume that there were six letters engraved upon each stone – as the number of letters in the longest name Binyamin – בנימין – and where the name of the tribe was shorted (such as with Dan – דן – or Gad – גד) some letters were added. In this way the Ḥoshen contained 72 letters – which associated the Ḥoshen with the 72-fold tablet that we have discussed in the appendix of Parashat Beshalaạ. The names of the 12 tribes require only 52 letters, but these letters do not include all the 22 Hebrew letters. To allow any text message (as a series of light sparkles in the parts of the crystals that fit the letters of the message) the missing letters were added.

The order of the names of the tribes on the Ḥoshen was not specified in the Torah, but we can infer from the twelve names on the Efod, which were specified: “And they shall make the ephod … And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, according to their birth (ketoladetam)” (28:6-10) – namely according to the order of birth. Soon after that it is written “And thou shalt make a breastplate of judgment, the work of the skilful workman; like the work of the ephod thou shalt make it…” (28:15) – namely the order of the names of tribes in the Ḥoshen was like their order in the Efod. In my view, which is different from that of the traditional interpreters (e.g. Hezkuni), Levi was not represented in the Ḥoshen because the priest himself was of the House of Levi, and instead of Yoseph (Joseph) came the two tribes that issued from Yoseph and received estates – Menasheh and Ephrayim. The order suggested here is thus according to the birth of the tribes. In the appendix is brought a Gematric marvel issuing from this order of the tribes.

In the table below, which represents the Ḥoshen, were added colors to clarify the tribes relations – sons of Le’ah in purple, of Zilpah in blue, of Bilhah in brown, of Raḥel’s sons and grandsons in red and the additional letters in green.


ראובן י



שמעון צ



יהודה ח



דן ק יעק



נפתלי ב



גד יוסף



אשר שבט



יששכר י



זבלון י






מנשה הו



אפרים ה


There are still letters in the Hebrew alphabet that are not included in the names of the tribes in the table – ח (Ḥet), ט (Tet), ס  (Samekh), צ (Ẓadik), ק (Qof) – without which it is near impossible to compose a full textual message. The traditional interpretation maintains that the names of the Patriarchs were added to the names of the tribes, Avraham , Yiẓḥaq and Ya’ạqov (אברהם יצחק יעקב – 13 letters). Thus, thanks to Yiẓḥaq- יצחקare added three of the missing letters – ח, צ, ק and the addition of Shivte Yah-שבטי יה “Tribes of YaH” (6 letters) is added the missing ט (Tet) – but still the letter  ס  (Samekh) is missing and the number of letters is only 71.

My suggestion is to do without the name of Avraham (from who issued also the Tribes of Ishmael) and to put instead the name of Yoseph (Joseph). Yiẓḥaq Ya’ạqov Yoseph { יצחק יעקב יוסף – 12 letters} (the Gematria values of the names of all of them are multiples of 26 {the Gematria of YHWH} and from whom issued the tribes, including Menasheh and Ephrayim) with the addition of “Shivte YHWH” (Tribes of YHWH) – solve the textual-arithmetic problem and settle it.

We have tarried here over a detail that might look as marginal, but it is one that hints at the future priestly function  when the entire Israel would count as “A Kingship of Priests and a Holy Nation” (Ex. 19:6). The Ḥoshen, as we suggested looks (and works) as a wearable portable computer, to remind us that in our generation we see contexts that could not have been conceived by the sages and medieval interpreters. Through the Ḥoshen, the priest became an “agent” for communications with God. An important function of the priests was also in medical matters, such as the diagnosis of Ẓara’ạt (usually translated as “Leprosy”, but it is a moot question). Nowadays it seems that the priests are replaced by (psycho)therapists.[4] The figure of the priest-therapist equipped with the Ḥoshen-wearable computer is a sign for the nearing future, in which all humankind will experience environmental pressures and changes of life and consciousness much as the Exodus of Egypt was, and the redress would be to create and establish man-machine networks for Healing Communications that would be able to treat and heal not just personal traumas, but also redress “The hurts of Nations”.[5]

The Order of the Tribes and the numbers of their names in the Ḥoshen

The Hebrew version at http://www.global-report.com/thehope/?a=141&l=he contains an appendix that shows some marvels of Gematria and geometry that become evident with the above ordering of the names of the tribes on the Ḥoshen and the relations between the tribes. It is not appended here, because most of it is intrinsically in Hebrew and would be much burden to read in translated English. Readers with some knowledge of Hebrew are urged to look it up and enjoy.


[1] See Rabbi Adin Steinsalz: “Rashuyot haShilton baMedinah haYehudit haKlasit” (“The Division of Authorities in the Classical Jewish State”, in Binyamin Lau (ed.) “A Nation apart” (in Hebrew). Yedi’ot Aḥaronot Ḥemed Books, 2006.

[2] The Mey haShiloaḥ commentary for Teẓaveh brings detailed interpretations concerning the unique qualities of each one of the twelve stones of the Ḥoshen.

[3] As the current saying goes: ” I-pad  = א-פֹד (Efod).

[4]  An interesting case is that of Sigmund Freud who brought on a medical revolution and who much identified with Moses, and all his psychoanalysis students (apart from Jung who eventually parted from him) were Jews. In the sequel psychoanalysis in the USA became almost “a Jewish profession”.

[5] I borrowed the expression from writer Palden Jenkins, see http://www.palden.co.uk/hhn/home.html. Note also the end of the Book of Revelation, where the New Jerusalem is the place of the Tree of Life “and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2).

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