For the week ending 31 March 2007 / 12 Nisan 5767

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 Flame

This is the law of the elevation offering… on the flame, on the Altar…” (6:2)

In this verse, the Torah writes the word “Altar” – mokda with a small mem.

The Altar symbolizes man’s service of G-d. Just as the flame always seeks to rise, likewise the hope of all prayer is to ascend to the highest places. However, fire also symbolizes pride and arrogance, the character traits that desire to rise and aggrandize themselves over others.

The essence of prayer is humility. When we understand how small we are, we have a chance of relating to how great G-d is, since true prayer and love of Torah is hidden in the heart, unrevealed to world, not trumpeted to all with extravagant gestures and posing.

Just like that the little mem, the elevation of the Altar of the heart is in proportion to its humility.

  • Source: The Kotzker Rebbe in Iturei Torah

A Safe Haven

“…the Kohen who performs its sin-offering service shall eat it; it shall be eaten in a holy place; in the Courtyard of the Tent of Meeting.” (6:19)

Returning to the faith of our fathers has an advantage and a disadvantage.

You’ve seen the bankruptcy of a lifestyle that glorifies the instant and the transient; this is what brought you to the immutable and the ultimate. On the other hand, you are what you eat… and what you see and what you hear and what you do. The negative spiritual experiences of a previous life are a dormant but ever-present threat to your continued spiritual growth.

The only way to preserve and nurture your fledgling spirituality is to connect to a wellspring of spirituality, a strong community, or a yeshiva.

On the other hand, someone who grew up religious may lack the newfound zeal of the ba’al teshuva, but his or her Jewish observance is not assailed by a previous lifestyle.

“…the Kohen who performs its sin-offering service shall eat it; it shall be eaten in a holy place; in the Courtyard of the Tent of Meeting.”

A sin-offering could only be eaten in a holy place, whereas a peace-offering could be eaten throughout the city of Jerusalem.

A peace-offering was brought as a demonstration of thanks and closeness to G-d. The peace-offering symbolizes someone who grew up religious, its eating doesn’t require the intense sanctity of a holy place.

A sin-offering, however, which symbolizes the returnee to Judaism, demands a safe haven of the highest elevation to nourish and protect it.

  • Source: Nachal Binyamin in Iturei Torah

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