For the week ending 23 March 2013 / 11 Nisan 5773

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.


Virtual Reality

“Command Aharon and his sons, saying: ‘This is the law of the Olah.” (6:2)

Imagine you are walking through a field.

Behind you some cows lazily are chewing grass. Ahead of you is a fence. In the fence is a narrow gate. You saunter towards the gate and without too much attention exit the field. You’re just about to go back and close the metal gate when you see one of the cows that has been following you nuzzle up to the gate.

There is a blinding blue flash. The cow convulses in paroxysms. Thousands of volts course through its body. The air fills with the smell of burning flesh. A few seconds and it’s all over. The cow is very quiet and very dead. Nothing can be heard except the birds singing away in blatant disregard to this scene.

What would you feel like? Wouldn’t you think, “That could have been me”? That should have been me”?

The korban was the ultimate virtual reality experience.

An essential purpose of a korban was that a person who did a sin should see the death of the animal. He should see its lifeblood thrown on the corners of the altar. He should see its limbs being burned and he should think to himself “That should have been me. I am the one that they should really be doing this to.”

Perforce we are sent into this world, and perforce we are taken from it. We do not own our lives. Our lives are always in the Hands of the Maker. When we do evil, we remove our raison d’être. We remove the reason for our lives. It is as though we tear up our contract with G-d. G-d has a deal with each of us: He gives us life and the ability to sustain ourselves and all He asks is that we use the world in the correct manner. When we renege on the deal we remove ourselves from the world.

However, G-d in His infinite kindness and goodness allows us a way back. Through the process of teshuva we can to return to Him as though we had never sinned. G-d accepts the body of the animal instead of the body of the one who has sinned. The main point of the korban is to awaken in the heart thoughts of regret for evil actions; thoughts of returning to G-d.

It was the ultimate in virtual reality.

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