For the week ending 15 March 2014 / 13 Adar II 5774

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 burned 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.


A Nice Patch of Grass

“Command!” (6:2)

The word mitzvah — commandment — sits uncomfortably in the lexicon of today's pluralistic correctness.

Truth be told, the Torah is chock full of commands. In fact there is not a single word of Torah that does not contain a commandment.

Isn't all that “commandment stuff” rather repressive?

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe once asked a pupil:

"Did you ever say Shema Yisrael with kavana (intention and attention)?"

The pupil replied, "Yes, of course, Rabbi."

Said Rabbi Wolbe, "Tell me, while you were saying the Shema did you feel a hint of rebellion against G-d?"

"Chas v'shalom," replied the pupil, "Of course not."

"Then you have never said Shema with kavana" replied the Rabbi.

A human being is made up of two elements — the physical and the spiritual. They have very different agendas.

The spiritual Masters teach that the first mitzvah of the Shema is to accept upon ourselves "the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven." Why didn't they just say, "to accept upon ourselves the Kingdom of Heaven." Why does it have to be a “yoke”?

The word in Hebrew for physicality is chumriut. The word for a donkey is chamor and shares the same root. The physical body is akin to donkey. A donkey needs a yoke, for when it spies that first appealing patch of grass it will stray from the path. The natural inclination of the body is to shy away from the yoke of subservience to G-d and the yoke of the mitzvot because it wants to graze in the human equivalent of a nice patch of grass.

A true recitation of the Shema demands that we accept the yoke in spite of and only after we have felt the body's desire to rebel.

The Ultimate Connection

“Command!” (6:2)

The word mitzvah (commandment) has the same root in Hebrew as the word “tzavta” which means “connection”.

The word mitzvah shares its last two letters - vav and heh - with the four-letter Name of G-d (yud, heh, vav and heh).

Interestingly, the first two letters of the word mitzvah - mem and tzadi - also hint to the first two letters of G-d's name - yud and heh - because using the numerological system of gematria known as At-bash, mem becomes yud, and tzadi becomes heh.

If you want to know who someone really is, find out what they want. What a person truly wants is the outward expression of his essence.

The mitzvot are, quite literally, what G-d “wants”. And since a mitzvah is what G-d “wants” you can never be more connected to G-d than by doing a mitzvah, for what G-d wants is a “reflection” of Who He “Is”.

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