For the week ending 8 April 2006 / 10 Nisan 5766

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.



“Command Aharon and his sons, saying, “This is the law of the elevation-offering…” (6:2)

One of the great confusions of our age is to mistake feeling spiritual with being spiritual.

The other day, someone showed me an ad for “Kabala Water.”Judging from the photograph, “Kabala Water” bares an amazing similarity to a regular bottle of mineral water. However, since its price is more than five times that of a six-pack of regular bottled water, obviously it must contain some pretty heavy-duty ingredients.

Kaballa means literally receiving. You can’t buy kaballa. You can’t “learn” kaballa. You can’t even drink kaballa. You can only receive. How do you receive kaballa? You make yourself into a vessel pure enough to hold its secrets.

Kaballa is received through the medium of seemingly anodyne tales. No golem-building instructions here. If the disciple is worthy, he will be able to remove the “garments” that clothe the secret and penetrate to its core. To the less worthy, kaballa will seem either bland or unintelligible. Everything depends on the purity of the receiver.

The more spiritual something is the more it requires covering. The more sacred something is the more it needs to be wrapped in seeming ordinariness and blandness. In fact, spirituality can only survive in this way. Spirituality is like a piece of unexposed film that can be fogged by the bright light of the sun.

The most spiritual place in the world was the Beit HaMikdash, and yet to the physical eye it looked like a giant abattoir. The very physicality of the process of bringing korbanot sacrifices masked and obscured its sublime spirituality. Moreover, the fact that much of the korban was eaten or utilized by the kohanim and the person who brought the korban increased the appearance of its physicality.

However, in the case of the korban olah — the “elevation-offering”— where nothing was eaten and it all rose up in smoke on the altar, the fact that it was “elevated” created a certain lacking to its mask of physicality.

“Command Aharon and his sons …” (6:2)

Rashi comments that the word “command” here implies a higher level of alacrity.“Rabbi Shimon says the Torah requires a greater decree of alacrity where there is a lack of cover.” It is for this reason specifically that with regards to the korban olah the kohanim are instructed to work more quickly. For when interior spirituality is lacking its protective cover it requires much greater care.

  • Based on Chidushei HaRim

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