This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Tzav (5763)
This week's section begins with the commandment of 'Trumat HaDeshen"; removing the ashes (of the burnt sacrifices of the previous day) from the altar, before beginning the next day's service in the Temple.
The Torah (Leviticus 6:4) tells us that the Cohen (priest) had to change his clothes from Temple garments to ordinary ones before he removed the ashes.
At first this is not understood. Removing the ashes was also a Temple service. And it was no dirtier than, for example, slaughtering the sacrifices or throwing their blood on the altar. Why did he have to change?
Or even better, why not just bring a different Cohen to remove the ashes, why did one Cohen have to do all the work?
And most important; what does all this mean to us now?
To understand here is a story about the fourth (Chabad) Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbe Shmuel.
The Rebbe was totally devoted to the service of G-d day and night.
But it so happened that he and another great Rabbi, (I heard that it was Rabbi Yisroel Salanter) had to visit a certain high Russian Minister in order to try to rescind an anti-Semitic decree hanging over the heads of Russian Jewry.
But the only way to see this Minister was to set a meeting in his palatial home where they would have to remove their head coverings and also be exposed to immodest dress and behavior.
But with no alternative they arrived at the mansion full of hope and trepidation. Upon entering, both were requested by the doorman to remove all head coverings and they had no choice but to comply.
Rabbi Yisroel winced as he did so but to his amazement Rebbe Shmuel removed his Yarmulke with ease, almost as though he enjoyed it!
(note: The head covering in Judaism is a remembrance that the Creator is above our understanding; so we must fear, love and obey Him constantly.)
Rabbi Yisroel was truly puzzled but said nothing as they walked slowly into the Minister's office.
As they entered Rabbi Yisroel immediately cast his eyes to the floor so as not to see the nakedness of the women before him. But he noticed that the Rebbe looked straight ahead and never tried to avert his gaze even once from what was going on.
The meeting was successful and their goal was miraculously achieved. But after they left the mansion Rab Yisroel could not hold back his amazement at the Rebbe's conduct.
"Tell me, my friend." He asked. "I admire your courage and your great wisdom in convincing the Minister to change his mind. But I don't understand how you could remove your head covering so easily? For me it broke my heart!"
"Ahh, that!" Grinned the Rebbe and he lifted his hat with one hand and with the other gently lifted the front of the toupee he had put on especially for the occasion; his head had, in fact, been covered all the time!
"Very inventive!" said Rab Yisroel. "But what about in the room; why didn't you at least look down what with all the crosses on the walls and the immodest dress there.
"Here, have a look!" Replied the Rebbe as he removed a pair of glasses from his pocket and handed them to his friend. "When I entered his room I put on these, they are so thick I almost couldn't see a thing! You see, I came prepared!"
This answers our questions.
True the removal of the ashes was part of the service, but it was a part that dealt with 'outside' of the Temple. It was only a preparation for the holy service and that has to be done with different garments.
Just as the Rebbe put on a toupee and thick glasses to deal with the Minister.And this is a lesson to us. Every Jew is commanded to become a holy Temple but we must remember that the things we do 'outside' in 'ordinary' garments (in other words our normal lives) are also part of the service; they are a preparation for Moshiach.
Moshiach will be a true Jewish leader, a King, who build the Third Holy Temple. Then we will again be able to do all that is written in the book of Leviticus.
Then (as we say thrice daily in 'Alenu') all mankind will desire ONLY the truth: that G-d is ONE. Namely that He alone is creating everything CONSTANTLY and there is nothing except for Him. In the language of the Lubavitcher Rebbe: "All we have to do is open our eyes!" and we will see...
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