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Parshat Tzav

This week’s Torah reading, Tzav, continues the description of offerings and sacrifices that were to brought to the Tabernacle in ancient Israel. The portion begins with instructions for the priests on how to maintain the fire on the altar and how to remove the ashes, which was their daily responsibility.

In addition to the sacrifices, we are instructed concerning the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests. Moses anoints them with oil and dresses them in the priestly garments, which include a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a tunic, a turban, and a sash. The ceremony symbolizes their dedication to serving God and the community as intermediaries.

It is interesting to note that the instructions specify the priests remove the ashes from the altar, what might seem to be a lowly task, and yet the Talmud tells us that the priests competed for the honor of removing the ashes. They used to have a race up the ramp, but after a priest got hurt, they switched to a lottery system. This story from the Talmud teaches us that one should be eager to serve God, even with tasks that seem ordinary and mundane.

Today is also Shabbat HaGadol, the “Great Shabbat,” the Shabbat before Passover. Some say Shabbat HaGadol got its name because the rabbi would give his longest sermon of the year, reminding the congregation of the intricate laws of Passover. You will be relieved to know I am not following that particular custom today!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Barry Leff


Sun, 2 April 2023 11 Nisan 5783