For the week ending 26 March 2005 / 15 Adar II 5765

Parshat Tzav

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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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.


The Everlasting Ember

"The fire on the Altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not be extinguished; and the kohen shall kindle wood upon it every morning; he shall prepare the olah offering upon it and shall cause the fats of the shelamim offering to go up in smoke upon it. A permanent fire shall remain aflame on the Altar; it shall not be extinguished" (6:5,6)

In every Jewish heart there glows an ember. In every Jewish soul there is a spark of holiness that can never be extinguished.

Those of us whose lives are dedicated to reaching out to our brothers and sisters who seem so far away from the faith of our forefathers must pattern ourselves after the kohen in the Holy Temple.

The kohen brought two offerings every day: The olah offering and the shelamim offering. The olah offering represents the mitzvot between us and G-d. The olah was the only offering in which none of its meat was consumed by man. It all "went up" on the Altar. Olah means to "arise." The olah symbolizes mans striving to connect to G-d which is the purpose of mitzvot like prayer, tefillin, brit mila and Shabbat.

The shelamim, as its name suggests, represent the creation of shalom, peace, between man and his neighbor. These are represented by mitzvot such as charity, kindness and correct speech.

In the dark world of materialism in which we live we should know that our daily job is to kindle the wood on the altar of the Jewish soul, to inspire and awaken the heart to connect to both to G-d and man in deeper and more meaningful ways.

For "an everlasting fire shall remain aflame on the Altar; it shall not be extinguished." All we need to do is fan the embers, however small they may seem.

  • Based Torat Moshe in Mayana shel Torah

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