For the week ending 24 March 2018 / 8 Nisan 5778

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.


Once More, With Feeling

“...he (the kohen) shall separate the ash…” (6:3)

Have you ever tried to start singing a song in the middle?

Well, it’s possible, but quite difficult.

How about getting your computer to load a program while leaving out the first ten lines of code? That’s not just difficult; it’s impossible.

A sugya in the Gemara is a lot like a computer program or a song.

You have to sing it from the top.

When you come back to a sugya in the Gemara that you have already started, the yetzer hara always says to you, “Well, we know what happened up till here, let’s go on! Or as we say in Yiddish ‘Veiter!’” (Yes, the yetzer hara speaks Yiddish as well. He’s fluent in every known language.)

Chances are you don’t know what happened up till here — well, not well enough to carry on. Not to be able to carry all the nuances of the sugya in your head. One of the things I do with my students is that I try to always start the shiur with a review of the sugya up to that point.

“But Rebbe, we know the sugya already. Let’s go on!

“...he (the kohen) shall separate the ash of what the fire consumed of the elevation offering on the Altar, and place it next to the Altar.”

The first service of the kohen in the Beit Hamikdash was to scoop a shovelful of ash from the innermost ashes of the Altar. These ashes had to be from the offering of the previous day.

Just as the avoda (service) of the Beit Hamikdash requires a connection to yesterday’s avoda, so too should our avoda in Torah connect today’s learning with yesterday’s, and ensure that we begin the song of the Torah “once more with feeling.”

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