Torah Weekly - Parshat Tzav

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Parshat Tzav

For the week ending 14 Nissan 5761 / April 6 & 7, 2001

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    The Torah addresses Aharon and his sons to teach them additional laws relating to their service. The ashes of the korban olah -- the offering burnt on the altar throughout the night -- are to be removed from the area by the kohen after he changes his special linen clothing. The olah is brought by someone who forgot to perform a positive commandment of the Torah. The kohen retains the skin. The fire on the altar must be kept constantly ablaze. The korban mincha is a meal offering of flour, oil and spices. A handful is burned on the altar and a kohen eats the remainder before it becomes leaven. The Parsha describes the special korbanot to be offered by the kohen gadol each day, and by Aharon's sons and future descendants on the day of their inauguration. The chatat, the korban brought after an accidental transgression, is described, as are the laws of slaughtering and sprinkling the blood of the asham guilt-korban. The details of shelamim, various peace korbanot, are described, including the prohibition against leaving uneaten until morning the remains of the todah, the thanks-korban. All sacrifices must be burned after they may no longer be eaten. No sacrifice may be eaten if it was slaughtered with the intention of eating it too late. Once they have become ritually impure, korbanot may not be eaten and should be burned. One may not eat a korban when he is ritually impure. Blood and chelev, forbidden animal fats, are prohibited to be eaten. Aharon and his sons are granted the breast and shank of every korban shelamim. The inauguration ceremony for Aharon, his sons, the Mishkan and all of its vessels is detailed.




    "Hashem spoke to Moshe saying 'Command Aharon and his sons saying...'" (6:1-2)

    The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol -- the "Great Shabbat."

    There are many reasons for this. One reason is that there is a mystical concept that Shabbat contains the week that follows. The Shabbat before Pesach thus "contains" Pesach within it. It carries the spiritual DNA of Pesach -- and Pesach is the birthday of the Jewish People -- the genesis of our nationhood.

    Here's another connection between this Shabbat and Pesach: One of the central foci of Shabbat are the three meals which punctuate it. Much of what Shabbat is takes place at the dining room table: The words of Torah, the family closeness and the Shabbat hospitality -- the mitzvah to bring guests into our homes. One of the central foci of Pesach is the Seder Table -- again the dining room table becomes an object of and a center for holiness.

    "Hashem spoke to Moshe saying "Command Aaron and his sons saying...'"

    Our spiritual Masters teach us that in this verse G-d was instructing Moshe that Aharon and the kohanim should be both very quick and careful in the service of the korban olah (elevation offering) in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). Not only that, but this zeal was a command for all generations.

    The problem is -- how can a kohen be zealous and meticulous about an offering today, when there is no Temple? How can this command relate to all generations? All the Jewish People have left of our glorious Beit Hamikdash and its service is a Western Wall of stones that some claim is really an early Islamic relic.

    The answer is that a Jew always has a "Temple." It's called his dining room table. When we bring guests to our table, be it on a Shabbat or on a week-day, or when we voice the call of the Haggada: "All who are hungry, let them come and eat! All who are in need, let them come and celebrate the Pesach!" we turn our dining room table into a Temple. For just as the Temple atoned for us, so a Jewish dining-room table, when used in the correct way, atones for us.

    And it is this "Temple" which requires the same vigilance and zealousness in its upkeep as the service of the korban olah. For it is here that we make "Passover" the whole year. It is at this table that we pass over to our children by our example the truths of Judaism: Its love of kindness, hospitality, tzedaka, the Holy words of the Creator that He has given to His people in the world's ultimate present -- the Torah.

    • Talmud Chagigah 27b
    • Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky

    Haftara Shabbat Hagadol

    Malachi 3:4 - 24


    The unique greatness of giving tithes is a main theme of this haftara read before Pesach. While it is otherwise forbidden to test G-d, tithing is an exception: "Test me, please, regarding this (giving of tithes)," says Hashem, the G-d of Hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour down for you blessing beyond your capacity." (3:10)

    Appropriate all year, charity gains importance before Pesach when added holiday expenses make charitable gifts all the more needed and appreciated by the poor, allowing them, too, to rejoice in the festival.

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Michael Treblow

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