Parsha Tzav – 5777

Parshat Tzav In-Depth

“The expression tzav (“command”) implies an urging for now and for future generations. (Torat Kohanim; Rashi)

The king Moshiach will arise and restore the kingdom of David to its glory of old, to its original sovereignty. He will build the Holy Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. In his times, all the laws of the Torah will be reinstated as before; the sacrifices will be offered, the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year instituted as outlined in the Torah. (Maimonides)”

Torah Sparks: Tsav 5777

“The Torah instructs that the sin-offering (korban ḥatat), associated with misdeeds, be offered in the same place (the holy of holies) as the burnt offering (korban olah), a sacrifice expressing dedication. The Ma’agelei Tsedek says this is to encourage the sinner not to be depressed, that penitence for his sins can put him in the same place before God as the tsadik. R’ Yisrael Salanter (1809 – 1883, Lithuania/Germany, father of the Musar movement) said that the korban olah actually comes to atone for sinful thoughts, and where one repents for sinful actions one should repent for sinful thoughts, since they so often lead to misdeeds.”

It All Depends: Finding the Middle of the Torah

“Finding the midpoint in the Torah is also a matter of considerable debate. Logically, you might think you could simply unroll a Torah scroll, measure it, and divide that number in half. Basically, that should land you somewhere in the Book of Leviticus, the third of five books of the Torah, assuming that each book of the Torah is about the same length. In fact, they are not equal. Genesis is the longest book, Leviticus is the shortest, and Exodus is longer than Deuteronomy. With the Torah weighted toward the first two books, it makes sense that the midpoint should be somewhere toward the front of the middle book. But that is about all tradition can agree upon with respect to the Torah’s centroid. Once you drill down into the details of counting the problem becomes increasingly complicated and finding the middle of the Torah, both mathematically and theologically, is no easy task. It all depends on what you mean exactly by ‘the middle of the Torah!'”

The Ascending Heart

“Yitzhak Magriso begins by asking why the phrase for one particular kind of sacrifice – an olah (burnt offering; literally a “going upward”) – is often repeated twice when a single usage of the word olah would have sufficed syntactically. The answer Me’am Loez provides is to suggest that one olah is a physical description of the burnt animal’s smoky ascent to heaven. But a second “olah” is also happening within the heart of the person bringing the sacrifice.”

Haftarah Parshat Tzav

“Human beings have a tendency to compartmentalize their behavior. Religious people are no exception. For the prophets, this was a serious problem. How could a people so dedicated to ritual service to God neglect or even oppose ethical behavior? How could they offer sacrifices with one hand and brush aside the unfortunate with the other? These paradoxes disturbed God and his messenger, Malachi, railed against them: “But first, I (God) will step forward to contend with you, and I will act as a relentless accuser against those who have no fear of Me: who practice sorcery, who commit adultery, who swear falsely, who cheat laborers of their hire, who subvert [the cause of] the widow, orphan, and stranger, said the Lord of Hosts.” (3:5)”