Friday, March 27, 2015

Torah Thoughts on Tzav

This week’s Torah portion, Tzav, (Lev. 6:1 - 8:36) can be best summarized as it is in the commentary “Torah Sparks” by Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum: “Tzav is Aaron’s instruction manual, a ninety-seven verse to-do list dictated by God via Moses”. Detailed instructions are given for how the various sacrifices are to be offered, how the priests are to outfit themselves, and purify themselves before they offer the sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel.

As it often does, the reading of Tzav coincides with the week preceding Passover, a festival which also comes with a detailed instruction manual.  We are commanded to remove leaven from our homes for eight days, which may entail thorough cleaning of the kitchen and the rest of the house, removing our year round utensils and replacing them with Passover items, buying, storing and preparing foods that we will use for the Seder and for the rest of the holiday.

Like us, Aaron and his sons must have been daunted by the magnitude of detail and the importance of the task at hand.  But still, “And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Eternal had commanded through Moses” (Lev. 8:36).  They got it done.  

The Torah seldom delves into emotions, so we don’t know whether or not Aaron and his sons were so caught up in performing the tasks correctly that they could not experience the holiness of their actions.  However, we can certainly avoid that pitfall ourselves.  Yes, it is important to observe Passover to whatever standards we set for ourselves, but we need to leave room for the joy of this holiday of spring, this festival of liberation.  Let us not get so caught up in the cleaning, the cooking, the preparation, that we are too tired to experience the holiness.  

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