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Parshat Tzav

5760 This week we learn about the commandment of keeping the fire on the altar burning so that it never be extinguished (“Aish Tamid, a constant fire, Tukad al Ha Mizbaiachh, should burn on the altar, Lo SichhBeh, it should not stop”) This, at first glance, is not very meaningful to us. What do we care what happened in the Holy Temple thousands of years ago?
5761 If you ever noticed, in almost every synagogue there is a ‘Continual Light’. Sometimes it is a small lamp hanging from the ceiling in front of the ‘ark’, or just a fluorescent on the wall, but it’s always there. Did you know that the source of this custom comes from a sentence in this week’s Torah Portion?
5762 This Shabbat announces the approach of a holiday that has no comparison in the world, the Holiday of Passover: It celebrates the birth of the Jewish nation over 3,300 years ago when the Creator of the universe actually took a entire nation of abject slaves, millions of Jews, to freedom from one of the greatest and most evil superpowers of all time.
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.
5764 This Shabbat in continuing the laws of Temple sacrifice we begin with the commandment to have a fire burning continually on the altar. (here 6:6) This Shabbat is also called Shabbat HaGadol, literally 'The Big Shabbat" because of a big miracle that happened in it over 3,300 years ago: All the First-born males in Egypt made war against Pharaoh when he refused to free the Jews and save them from the tenth plague. [Hence the praise, "G-d smote Egypt THROUGH their first-born". (Psalms 136:10)]
5765 Each Jewish Holiday and each section, indeed each word, of the Torah holds a key to the mysteries of life and a window into the infinite. So this year, when Parshat Tzav comes in same week as Purim it must be because there is a very important similarity between them. But they seem to be the opposite.
5766 This week's section continues the laws of the animal sacrifices adding, among other things, the details of the Korbon Toda - the Thanksgiving Offering. This special offering was not brought anytime but rather only on the four occasions enumerated in Psalm 107: after getting out of prison, crossing a sea, crossing a desert or recovering from a serious disease.
5767 This week’s section opens with an interesting ‘Holy- Temple’ commandment called Trumat HaDeshen; to remove the ashes of the previous day’s sacrifices from the Altar before beginning the next day’s service. At first glance this is not so clear. First of all, what difference does it make if the altar is cleaned each day or not… and why make it a commandment. Why not just clean it whenever it's necessary.
5768 This week's Torah portion continues the laws of the Temple sacrifices and is followed by the holiday of Purim. Both represent happiness: In the Temple Jews would to rejoice three times a year and the essence of Purim is happiness.
5769 This week's section opens with a double commandment "A constant fire must burn on the altar, it shouldn't be extinguished." At first glance the last part of the sentence is unnecessary; why tell us not to extinguish the fire when we already know it must burn constantly?
5770 This Shabbat we read a chapter of Torah beginning with the word 'Tzav' (command) which contains the commandment of having a constant fire burning on the altar. Also, being the Shabbat before Passover, this Shabbat is called 'Shabbat HaGadol'… 'The Big Shabbat' because of a 'big' miracle that happened just before the Jews left Egypt.
5772 This week's Torah portion continues the laws of the sacrifices. It is really difficult to understand why G-d would want us to kill animals for Him? What can possibly be the point? Why not just give the value of the animal to the poor or do more good deeds and let the animals live?
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