(Previously published on RabbiShimon.com)
There is an article in Zohar Tetzaveh that talks about walking in the desert and snakes. The Zohar says that God directed us to the desert in order to give us the opportunity to fight the snake and control him. The first sin was with the snake and therefore at the beginning of everything we do the snake always waits for us. In Genesis 4:7 we read “…לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ”, “sin couched at the door”.
Why does the Zohar connects the snake with Tetzaveh?
We leared that Moshe’s name does not appear in this Parasha.
G-d instructed Moshe on what he needed to do to prepare Aharon and his sons for the priesthood. He was the first Kohen, the original channel for the Light to the holy tabernacle. The Zohar teaches us that the Light gets to be revealed from the concealed. If you lit a candle on a sunny day, you wouldn’t be able to see its light but you could easily see its light in the dark. Moshe had to conceal himself in order to accomplish this important mission without disruption.
In Terumah he prepared the Tabernacle, which is the vessel. Now he prepares the priests to be the channel for the Light. Moshe did not want to risk involvement of the primordial snake in the process. He did his job with humility. If we read the parasha carefully we realize how much work was required from him to prepare Aharon and his sons for the holy job.
One of the tools to channel the Light was (Exodus 28:30) “וְנָתַתָּ אֶל-חֹשֶׁן הַמִּשְׁפָּט, אֶת-הָאוּרִים וְאֶת-הַתֻּמִּים” “the Urim and the Thummim” (in simple translation “Lights and Perfections”). These special codes activated the breastplate,” חֹשֶׁן” and gave it the power to be like a “know it all” computer.
The first letter of “אוּרִים” is Alef, “א” and the first letter of “ַתֻּמִּים” is Tav, “ת” . The א and ת represent the beginning and end of the Alef Bet and the full revelation of the light in the world through the Hebrew letters.
The breastplate was called “חֹשֶׁן” and it has the same letters of “נחש”, snake, and has the numerical value of 358 (= Mashiach). The “מ” of Mashiach is the middle letter of the Alef Bet and together with the Alef and Tav, it makes “אמת”, which is the seal of G-d. In the Torah, the word Mashiach appears only together with the Kohen, (Leviticus 4) “הַכֹּהֵן הַמָּשִׁיחַ”.
The power of the Kohen was to break the hold of “the Snake”, which represents all negativity, falsity and the illusion of this world.
Because of the first sin, we made the snake our partner for life. To avoid his negativity, we need to hide our actions from him, especially at the start of everything.
The Zohar tells us to “crush the snake’s head”. The verb that the Zohar uses is specifically “לכתת־את־ראשו” “to crush”. The root word “כתת” has numerical value of 820. It has a lot of meanings and the most significant one is that it is the same as “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and “אהבת־חנם” unconditional love+ “שדי”, the holy name that gives us protection. This is the light that takes away the power of the snake and keeps us safe.