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Home » Tzav

Tzav: Food for Thought For Your Dinner Table

Submitted by on March 16, 2008 – 1:55 amNo Comment | 2,669 views

Sunday: Virtual sacrifice

“This is the Torah of the burned offering; this is the burned offering upon the flames upon the altar, all night till the morning.” 

The fact that this verse begins with “This is the Torah of the burned offering,” teaches that our Torah studies about a burned offering are tantamount to actually making such an offering. This offering must be brought “upon the flames upon the altar,” which means that we must ignite the flames of our soul and study with enthusiasm and passion. The time for this offering is “all night till the morning.” Night is a metaphor for the dark exile. For the duration of the exile we are confined to the virtual form (study form) of burned offering, but once morning dawns or once the exile ends and the redemption is ushered in we will merit bringing the actual burned offerings again. Kli Yakar

Monday: Earthenware

Walking about Shiloh, site of the ancient Tabernacle, one finds ancient shards of pottery. It is widely assumed that these shards are remnants of pottery used for the sacrificial offerings. The origin of this assumption is in our Torah reading. The law required that sacrifices be consumed within a specific time frame. Any meat left after that time was forbidden to eat.

Similarly, it was forbidden to use any metal or earthenware vessel in which such meat was cooked. This is because pots absorb the flavor of food that is cooked in them and a vessel that was used to roast or handle a sacrifice absorbed the flavor of the sacrifice. After the deadline for eating the sacrifice had passed, the flavor within the pot would render the pot unkosher. Immersing the metal pot into boiling water has the effect of expunging the unkosher flavor from the vessel, thus rendering the vessel kosher. Earthenware, which cannot be made kosher through boiling water, must be destroyed in the event that they absorb non kosher flavors.

It was likely the custom of Jews, who ate their Pascal Lamb in earthenware vessels, to break the pottery after their meal, which would explain why pottery shards abound in Shiloh.

Tuesday: Self Sacrifice

“One, who dedicates his peace offering to G-d. . .his own hands should bring My flames.” How can human hands stimulate Divine flames?

An animal sacrifice is hardly a fitting gift to G-d, but the sacrifice of one’s own soul is a fitting gift. When the animal sacrifice is accompanied by the worshipper`s ecstasy at drawing closer to G-d, furthermore, if the worshipper, in his devout zeal, wishes he could throw himself upon the altar and draw closer to G-d, but doesn`t because G-d forbids it, then the sacrifice becomes his own; considered as if he had sacrificed his own soul. “His own hands,” the Jew`s willingness to make the sacrifice his own, “bring My flames,“ stimulates the divine flames that receive and consume the Jew`s gift. Toras Emes (Alshich)

Wednesday: A Royal Bath

Moses presented Aaron and his sons to the community as the newly anointed priestly family. Moses personally bathed them, anointed them and dressed them in the priestly vestments. Couldn’t Moses, a king, delegate these duties to another? Even if Moses considered dressing Aaron an honor he should have considered the effects on his office. Our sages taught that a King may not forgo his honor for even the King may not demean the crown.

Yet we see that Moses acted in accordance with G-d’s commandment. Before bathing them Moses declared, “This is the thing that G-d had commanded.” With this commandment G-d taught us an invaluable lesson. Participating in a Mitzvah is never demeaning. No matter our station in life, no Mitzvah is beneath us; on the contrary, it is a high honor and a sacred privilege. Or Hachayim

Thursday: Respectful Collection

Fundraisers often employ peer pressure to persuade a potential donor to donate. The Torah cautions that this is not only insensitive to the donor, but might also implicate the collector in the sin of theft. When inaugurating the altar Moses offered a sacrifice to atone for the altar. The spirit of generosity that swept through the Jewish camp during the building drive for the Tabernacle was so pervasive that some Jews felt compelled by peer pressure to give beyond their means.  These donors did not impart these gifts with a full heart and therefore retained a semblance of ownership. The Tabernacle was thus built, in part, from materials that did not belong to it fully. Moses therefore offered a sacrifice of atonement on behalf of the Tabernacle and the altar. Sifra

Friday: When the Negative drives the Positive

The tribe of Levi won the distinction of serving in the Temple because they were the only tribe that refrained from worshipping the Golden Calf. G-d ordained special sacrifices for the Levitic tribe to emphasize their distinction. It would appear that the Levi’s unique offering would indirectly invoke the sins of others by emphasizing that Levi did not sin, yet rather than incurring G-d’s wrath against the sinners, the Levi’s first offering brought atonement for the sinners. This is because there are two sides to sin; the behavior is negative, but the resultant remorse and repentance are positive.

The highest level of repentance is that which transforms the sin into a merit. Penitents, who recognize the enormity of their sins and the distance it places between themselves and G-d, return to G-d with a passion and zeal that often exceeds that of the saint who has never sinned. When sins become an energy source for the penitent’s heightened drive, the sins are transformed into merits.

In a similar sense, the Levi’s first sacrifices brought forgiveness for the Golden Calf because rather than remember the sin in a negative sense, G-d saw that the people had repented and embraced Him with renewed fervor through the building of the Tabernacle.  Likutei Sichos

Shabbat: Seven days of Holiness

Aaron and his sons were not permitted to leave the sanctuary for seven days before the opening of the Tabernacle. Every year before Yom Kippur the High Priest would also move into the sanctuary for a seven day period of training and study. When Yom Kippur arrived, the High Priest, having spent an entire week in seclusion and preparation, was steeped in an aura of holiness.

This may also have been the reason that Aaron and his sons were required to remain in the Tabernacle for seven days. By the time the official service began, the priests, having spent seven days in service and meditation, were engaged in a mindset of holiness.