What is the meaning of the word ‘Mitzvah’ and how does it is relate to our weekly Torah portion?

Today’s “parasha” {פרשה} (weekly Torah portion) is “Tetzaveh” {תצוה} – which is the eighth “parasha” in the Book of Exodus and found in Exodus 27:20–30:10.

This “parasha” deals mainly with the instructions of how to make the sacred garments for the priests and how to conduct an ordination ceremony for them. The “parasha” begins in the following verse:

“You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn.” (Exodus 27:20)

In the original Hebrew, the phrase “(you) shall command” is ‘Tetzaveh’ {תצוה} and that is the meaning of the weekly Torah portion’s name. The Hebrew word ‘Tetzaveh’ shares the same root as the well-known Hebrew term ‘Mitzvah’ {מצוה}  which literally means ‘a commandment ‘ (like in the English translation that we just read) and its original meaning was an obligatory act which was commanded by God.

Over the years, the original meaning of the word ‘Mitzvah’ has changed and today we use it (in both Hebrew and English) as a synonym for doing ‘a good deed’.