Parshas Tzav


MARCH 30, 2012
NISAN 7, 5772


Candle-lighting Time: 7:04 PM



By Rabbi Raphael Leban

Over the last two weeks I have received quite a few thank you cards for the Mishloach Manos baskets of food we gave to friends on Purim. When you receive a thank you card for something, it really shows you how much the person appreciated what you did. It made me feel great. I was tempted to write thank you cards for their thank you cards.

In Parshas Tzav, the Torah introduces a very special type of offering that was brought in the Tabernacle—the korbon toda, an offering of thanks. It was a very unique offering for several reasons. For one thing, it was only brought by someone who had been in a dangerous situation, like a serious illness or a difficult journey, and then been healed, saved or returned to safety. At these moments of salvation, we bring an offering of thanks to G-d.

The thanksgiving offering included forty loaves of bread of different types (although neither turkey, stuffing nor cranberry sauce went with them). Ten of these loaves were regular chametzdik challahs, i.e. leavened, and the rest were unleavened matzos of different sorts. Although the matzah may sound like the strange part, the challahs were actually the unique ones. With very few exceptions, Temple offerings never contained  chometz, as it say explicitly in this week’s parsha.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the Tabernacle had to be kept Passover clean all year ‘round. (Could you imagine all that shelf paper?) It just means that the flour offerings didn’t have chometz in them.

Chometz is symbolic of oppression, as the word is used in Psalms (71:4) “…[save me from the] chometz.” (An oft quoted verse this time of year.) Matzah, on the other hand,  is the bread of salvation, as we know from the Passover Seder. So why do we bring these two things together as a korban toda?

The Otzer Chaim explains with a significant idea from the Talmud. It’s easy to give thanks for the nice things that we’ve received, but it’s also appropriate to be thankful for the other stuff, too. Just like we make a blessing on the tov, good, we make a blessing on the ra, bad. When we bring an offering of thanks, there are two parts, the chometz and the matzah, because we know that ultimately, though we may not understand it in this lifetime, everything that happens is for the good.



By Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum

At the conclusion of the Mishkan’s inauguration, Ahron and his sons were officially installed as the Kohanim to serve in the Mishkan. As you can imagine, this was quite an auspicious occasion. Moshe was told to gather the entire nation at the entrance to the Mishkan. As we know from the census, the entire population numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Yet they all assembled at the opening of the Mishkan.  Physically speaking, this is impossible. Rashi comments that this was one of several specific moments when a small area was able to accommodate a large amount of people. In truth, this miraculous occurrence shouldn’t raise any eyebrows, since supernatural events happened for the Jewish people constantly in the desert. However, one might still ask why was this so necessary? Didn’t the nation believe Moshe that Hashem wanted Ahron to serve in the capacity of High Priest? Why was it so important that everyone witness the ceremony?

Midrash Tanchuma explains further that Moshe was told that everyone should watch Ahron assume his position of High Priest in order that they would not challenge his promotion, as indeed Korach did later on. Since Hashem ‘knew’ that this would not prevent the challenge, why was it done?

Another Midrash, called the Safra, explains further that Hashem wanted the nation to witness Ahron’s induction as the High Priest so that they would realize that they must treat him and all Kohanim with appropriate reverence and appreciation. Through their service in the Mishkan and later in the Beis Hamikdash, Hashem’s presence permeated our nation. All the blessings that we receive are a direct result of the Divine presence resonant within our midst. Therefore, we are required to honor those who lead us in a special way and provide for our ongoing sustenance and prosperity.

The tribe of Levi, from which the Kohanim descend, is unique in its passion to serve Hashem in any situation. We know that they were the ones who sided with Moshe against the idolaters that were involved in the Golden Calf. Indeed, that act of self-sacrifice entitled them to the post which was forfeited by those who succumbed to the temptation of idol worship.

However, they are not unique in their zeal and enthusiasm to serve Hashem. Rambam clearly states that anyone whose ambition is to dedicate his life to serve Hashem is undoubtedly equated with the tribe of Levi. And for those who are indeed committed to this goal, Hashem will provide for them as He did for the Kohanim.

Today’s ‘Kohanim’ are the recognized leaders of our generation and of our communities, renowned Torah scholars devoted to the dissemination of Torah and its principles. They set the benchmark of our pristine legacy and promote its enduring integrity and clarity.

Indeed, one of the most fundamental principles of Judaism is that we have an unbroken tradition that begins with Moshe and continues to this very day. Maimonides documents this transmission through each and every generation, and we are actively aware of the carefully linked chain that connects us directly to Sinai. This tenet is a very important and powerful theme that flows through the entire Yom Tov of Pesach. We value our elders and their wisdom and we seek to transmit it to our children and their children. In fact, the word Pesach itself is a compound word ‘peh sach,’ which means that the mouth communicates. The stability of our transmission is what defines us and sets us apart from the rest of the world.



This Shabbos is referred to as the “Great Shabbos.” On this date in the final week before the Exodus, the Jewish nation took a lamb, an animal worshipped by the Egyptians as a deity, and slaughtered it in front of them without any reprisal whatsoever. We recall this miracle every year on the Shabbos immediately preceding Passover.

Chofetz Chaim



By Rabbi Mordechai Becher

The chazzan, cantor, of a community was growing old and was not capable of leading the community in prayer. He appointed his son to assist him and to lead the prayers, but his son’s voice was not as good as his father’s. Members of the community objected to the son leading the prayers and asked the Rashba (Responsa Rashba 1:300) if they could prevent the son from leading prayers. The Rashba concluded that if the son was a G-d fearing individual, and was competent in leading the prayers, even if his voice was not as pleasant as his father’s, he had the right to take his father’s place.He cites the verse in the Torah portion this week as evidence for his ruling. The verse states that, “The priest who is anointed instead of him from his sons shall do [the service]” (Leviticus 6:15), implying that the anointed successor to the High Priest should be one of his sons. The Code of Jewish Law cites this response and rules in accordance with the Rashba (Orach Chaim 53:25).

Reprinted with permission from Parsha Partner, a weekly publication of Partners in Torah. Please add us to your Parsha reading list.



Sayings of the Jewish Buddhist:

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Accept misfortune as a blessing.  Do not wish  for perfect health, or a life without problems.  What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy.



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