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Tetzaveh, this week’s parashah, holds teachings about the garments that the Kohanim, the priests will wear. This parashah is very special to everyone in the Chevra Kadisha because the names of the garments by which the meitim, the dead, are dressed, are taken directly from the names of these priestly garments. As our practices have evolved, for thousands of years everyone who is buried will be dressed in hand-stitched garments, treated with the same dignity and respect and placed in the ground. Here we us a very simple and plain coffin for everyone. Jewish burial is the original green burial – cotton or linen garments, no chemical preparations, no artificial adornments, no metal nails of handles in the coffin. We return bodies very simply to the earth, to the adamah.
Tetzaveh continues with the minutiae we noticed last week in the construction of the Mishkan. These last five sidrot in Exodus are an exercise in understanding the importance of each aspect of each of our service – whatever our role may be, we are all necessary to the creation of the whole. Not only are we to be builders, we are also to be schneiders – tailors and sewers. All of these tasks call us to paying attention to the smallest of details as we literally stitch ourselves into our future.
Our Chevra Kadisha has been blessed with receiving tachrichim, burial shrouds, hand sewn by a group of women in Winnipeg for the past years. This coming year we will now be ordering from Vancouver, where another group of women have taken on this mitzvah. A circle of mitzvot binds us all, the living and the dead. Amen.
May you all have the blessing of long life, a healthy life and a loving life.