For the week ending 19 March 2022 / 16 Adar Bet 5782

Parashat 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 Torah portion 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 certain accidental transgressions, 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, as well as the prohibition against leaving uneaten until morning the remains of the todah, the thanksgiving offering. 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 (certain 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.


Arnold Toynbee’s Philo-Semitism?

“And he (the kohen) should separate the ash…” (6:3)

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) was an English historian who is widely quoted as calling the Jews “the fossils of history.” What Toynbee actually meant by this is not clear. It does not take a philosopher of history to see that if we are “fossils,” we are still extremely sprightly and we are doing, as Mark Twain wrote, a lot better than the ancient Greeks, ancient Romans, Parthians and many other nations who no longer exist in their original form, if at all.

In a lecture to the British section of the World Jewish Congress delivered in 1959 and entitled “Is There a Jewish Future in the Diaspora?” it seems that Toynbee either clarified or revised his views by saying: “The future of Judaism is to convert the world. It is an extraordinary thing that twice in history the Jews have allowed outsiders to run away with their religion, and spread it over the world. Does not the real future of the Jews and Judaism lie in spreading Judaism, in its authentic form, over the whole world?”

Jacob Agus wrote in “Commentary” (September 1961) “Toynbee’s call for Jews to bring masses of converts to ‘the religion of Deutero-Isaiah.’ … He repeatedly expressed fear that the State of Israel, particularly in its present precarious position, will bring about a complete substitution of Jewish nationalism for Jewish religious purpose. He believes that the physical interests of Anglo-American Jewry call for a maximum of concentration upon the religious content of Judaism and a reduction of its nationalistic entanglements to the vanishing point.”

“And he (the kohen) should separate the ash…”

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch’s commentary on the taking of ash in the service of Hashem in the Beit Hamikdash emphasizes a national declaration that the Jewish People will continue to serve Hashem as we did yesterday, according to the dictates of His will, and not according to our own desire for parity and national identity among the nations of the world.

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