Monday, March 21, 2011


On Shabbos I had two meals at the home of an esteemed talmid chacham along with many knowledgable guests. At each meal the woman of the house asked if anyone had a dvar Torah on Tzav. I heard crickets. People had a lot to say about Purim and Amalek and Megillah, but as for Tzav there was only the silence of the crickets. So I went home and looked up some thoughts on Tzav, not for my hosts, because the meals were done, but for you.

The ashes had to be cleared from the altar daily (as prescribed in Vayikra 6:2). Rav S.R.Hirsch says the idea here is that with each new day Torah must be fresh, as if nothing was accomplished before. A new day means new sacrifice and new devotion. In spiritual matters one should not and can not rest on past accomplishments.

Vayikra 6:18 says that, "In the place where you slaughter the burnt offering you shall slaughter the sin offering." This seemingly dry law is given moral meaning by the Yerushalmi in Yevamot 8:3. The reason why these offerings were prepared in the same spot was to protect those bringing sin offerings from embarrassment. No-one would know if people were preparing a free will gratitude offering or a mandated penance offering. See here where I further develop this idea.

The sefer Vayedaber Moshe says a nice drush on the words "Zot Torat ha'olah." The straightforward, contextual meaning of these words is, "This is the law of the burnt offering." Homiletically it can be read, "'This' is the mandate of an arrogant (elevated) person. A person who is narcissistic/self absorbed is always asking for this or that, which he feels he needs - while putting the needs of others aside.


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