For the week ending 8 April 2017 / 12 Nisan 5777

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 Burning Sensation

“...Command Aharon and his sons, saying: This is the Torah of the Olah: it is the elevation-offering that stays on the flame... and the flame of the Altar should be kept aflame on it.” (13:17)

Korbanot — animal sacrifices — don't make sense.

How can the offering of an animal on the Altar be atonement for our wrongdoing?

The Ramban explains that the essence of a korban is that the offender should watch the shechita of the korban and think: “That should be me!”

It is his neck that really should be feeling the slaughterer’s knife, and only through G-d's great mercy is the wrongdoer allowed to substitute the body of an animal for that of his own.

But it doesn't stop there. This feeling must also lead the offender to repentance, to turn aside from his wrongdoing and mend his ways.

This idea is hinted to in the Torah text:

"...Command Aharon and his sons, saying," — meaning that they should say to every Jew who brings a korban, "This is the Torah of the elevation-offering…" — this is the essence and the purpose of the korban — that "it (can also be translated as ‘he’) is the elevation-offering" — he should see himself as though everything being done to the korban should really be done to him.

"And the flame of the Altar should be kept aflame on it (him)." In other words, the flame should be kept burning his body, but G-d in His Mercy accepts the korban as a substitute.

  • Sources: HaDrash V'ha'Iyun in Mayana shel Torah

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