Maimonides on Life

Maimonides on Life

Chapter 6, Law 7(b)

By Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld

True Friends

“If one sees his fellow sin or following an improper path, he is obligated to return him to the better [path], and to inform him that he is sinning to himself with his evil ways. [This is] as it is stated, ‘You shall surely rebuke your fellow’ (Leviticus 19:17).

“When one rebukes his fellow, whether in matters between the two of them or in matters between him [the sinner] and G-d (lit., ‘the Omnipresent’), he must rebuke him privately (lit., ‘between him and himself’). He should speak to him gently, in a soothing (lit., ‘soft’) tone, telling him that he is only saying this to him for his benefit and to bring him to the life of the World to Come.

“If his fellow accepts his words, it is good. If not, he should rebuke him a second and third time. And so too, he is continuously obligated to rebuke his fellow until the sinner hits him and says to him ‘I will not listen.’

“Anyone who has the ability to prevent [others from sinning] and does not prevent [them] is held to blame (lit., ‘grabbed’) for the sins of all those he could have prevented.”

Last week we discussed one of the key concepts of this law — that we must rebuke our fellow with kindness and compassion, so as to make it clear to him we mean his best. We saw that this too is G-d’s way in dealing with mankind — that even while punishing us He tempers His justice with compassion, sending us clear messages that He’s still there watching over us. And this is His way of telling us that although He is now dealing with us harshly, He is doing so mercifully, as a means of leading us to repentance, rather than venting His own Divine wrath.

As an important aside, this principle has application in Jewish law. Theoretically, “You shall surely rebuke your fellow” would seem to obligate us to reprimand our fellow Jew whenever we see him doing something wrong — even if he’s a complete stranger. However, most folks would not take kindly to some stranger coming along and butting into their affairs. Thus, practically speaking, we generally only rebuke those with whom we have some sort of relationship, who we know will be amenable to constructive criticism (see Be’er Halacha 608, s.v. “chayav l’hochicho”).

The Rambam continues (based on Talmud Erchin 16b), that if one’s fellow does not accept his rebuke, he must continue to tell him off, basically until the sinner strikes him or the situation otherwise gets utterly out of hand. This seems a little strong. I could imagine getting up the guts to rebuke my fellow once — and that in itself is not easy — but if he brushes it off with some non-answer as most people do, I can’t really imagine trying again — and again and again. I mustered up the courage to politely and passingly mumble something to him once . If he doesn’t want to take up on my suggestion, it’s now his own problem.

(By the way, I’ve had occasions in which people criticized me and I brushed it off at the time — only to reconsider later and improve on account of it. Most people will respond with a reflexive defensiveness when challenged (usually accompanied with some stupid deflective or self-deprecating wisecrack) but may very well come to their senses shortly after.)

I believe, however, an important distinction is in line here. The Talmud, in obligating us to rebuke our fellow, was assuming our fellow knew full well he should be behaving better. He knows G-d is watching over him and judging his every act. He knows he is sinning and should not be — just that he either cannot control himself or is not allowing himself to think. (Alternatively, our fellow may be sinning out of ignorance, but would be more than happy to have another enlighten him and correct his error.) All such a person needs is a caring friend to basically give him a swift kick in the pants, knocking him back to his senses.

Such a person will actually probably be grateful to his fellow for forcibly helping him out of his rut. Even if he’s kicking and screaming the entire way and seems totally unreceptive to your words, he knows deep down his behavior isn’t appropriate. He knows he should break away. And if you bang him on the head enough times, he’ll be *happy* that you brought him back to his senses.

(See also for example Mishna Erchin 5:6 and Gittin 9:8 that if a husband refuses to grant his wife a divorce (when he is obligated to), “we force him until he says he wants.” According to Jewish law, a bill of divorce must be granted willingly by the husband. Yet if we beat him senseless until — viola! — he all of a sudden realizes he *does* want to give it, that is acceptable — because deep down a Jew really wants to do G-d’s will. It just sometimes takes a little prodding to get him in touch with his true wants.)

Needless to say, the situation is very different today. We could hardly say every Jew we meet really wants to keep the Torah to the letter but just cannot restrain himself — and just needs a little tough-love medicine to bring him back to his senses. Tragically, the vast majority of Jews have virtually *no idea* what Judaism is and what they’re missing. (And even if they have *heard about* traditional Judaism, we would hardly say that they really know what it’s all about. They might have heard that there are these archaic winter-clothes-wearing “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews in Jerusalem who throw stones at cars on the Sabbath and beat up women who dress immodestly — it hardly helps having PR about as good as ISIS.) Forceful persuasion would hardly benefit the situation but would likely turn off the unaffiliated even further.

As an interesting aside, the Talmud cannot even envisage Jews who know virtually nothing about Judaism — who have never even *heard* of the Sabbath, holidays and dietary laws in any serious way. How can a Jew — no matter where he lives and whom he was born to — not even *know* that we don’t eat seafood or open our stores on the Sabbath? The Talmud occasionally discusses such a case theoretically, referring to such a person as a “baby who was taken captive.” Must have been someone who was kidnapped by pirates as an infant, to be whisked off to some exotic island in the South Pacific and grow up with the savages.

Thus, practically speaking, the mitzvah (obligation) to rebuke as the Sages envision it is far less relevant today than it once was. In fact, the scholars of the Talmud themselves commented that few in their generation were up to receiving rebuke — and few were sincere enough to properly administer it (Erchin 16b). It takes a great person to admit to his faults and yet another great one to truly and genuinely point them out. I believe it was R. Yisrael Salanter (great scholar and ethicist of 19th Century Europe) who commented that his teacher, the holy R. Zundel of Salant, was one who could sincerely tell people off, but that he could not see himself doing the same.

And so, rebuke, done properly, is relegated to the domain of a chosen few. We can do it only to those we know and love, and only to those who are both amenable to constructive criticism and who know we truly care about them. I will conclude though, that I hope we all have such people in our lives. There is nothing more instructive and enlightening than having a close friend tell you what’s wrong with you — and your being such a close friend for another. As we get on in life, we realize that our friends are not the fellows we joked with in the back of the class in college. (As I heard R. Motty Berger (www.aish.com) once comment, if we so much as remember their names a year later, we’re doing better than most.) The friends that stick with us in the long run are the ones we opened up to, we developed true relationships with, and we shared and grew with. Those are the type who can both see our faults and who care enough to tell us about them . If we have a few such in our lives, we must cherish them. For they are our best hope for true fulfillment.

Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld and Torah.org

PARSHA VAIYIKRA TSAV

SECTION XXV.

PARSHA

VAIYIKRA TSAV.

And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: Instruct Aharon and his sons, saying: This is the law of the Burnt Offering. It is burnt offering, because burned upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it. And the priest shall dress himself with the vestments of linen, and wear drawers of linen upon his flesh; and he shall separate the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering upon the altar, and set them beside the altar. And he shall take off his vestments, and dress himself with other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place. But the fire upon the altar shall be burning on it, and never be extinguished; and the priest shall burn wood on it from morning to morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it, and burn upon it the fat of the sanctified oblations. The fire shall be ever burning on the altar, it shall not be extinguished.

And this is the law of the Mincha which the sons of Aharon shall offer in the presence of the Lord before the altar. And he shall separate therefrom his handful lof the flour of the mincha and of its oil, and all the frankincense that is upon the mincha, and burn it at the altar as its memorial to be accepted with favour before the Lord. And the remainder of it may Aharon and his sons eat, unleavened shall it be eaten in the holy place, in the court of the tabernacle of ordinance shall they eat it. It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of my oblations; it is most sacred, as the sin offering and as the trespass offering. All the males of the children of Aharon may eat it. (This) is an everlasting statute[1] for your generations concerning the oblations of the Lord: every one who toucheth them shall be holy.

And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying, This is the oblation of Aharon and his sons which they shall present before the Lord on the day when they anoint him. The tenth of three seahs of flour for a mincha perpetually, a half in the morning, and a half at eventide. It shall be made in a pan with oil; while soft it shall be brought a baken mincha offered in pieces[2] to be accepted with favour before the Lord. And of his sons, the priest who shall be anointed in his stead shall perform it. (This is) an everlasting statute before the Lord: it shall be burned entirely, and every mincha of the priest shall be entirely (burned); it is not to be eaten.

And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: Speak with Aharon and with his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, there shall the sin offering be killed before the Lord; it is most sacred. The priest who maketh atonement with its blood shall eat it; in the holy place it shall be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of ordinance. Every one who toucheth the flesth thereof must be holy. And if he drop some of its blood upon a vestment, that which is bedropped shall be purified in the holy place. But the earthen vessel in which it was sodden shall be broken; and if it be sodden in a vessel of brass, (that) shall be scoured and washed in water. Any man of the priests may eat thereof: it is most sacred. But no sin offering whose blood is brought into the tabernacle of ordinance to make atonement in the sanctuary may be eaten, but shall be burned with fire.

VII. And this is the law of the Trespass Offering; it is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt offering, there shall they kill the trespass offering and sprinkle its blood round about; and all the fat of it shall be offered, with the tail and the fat which covereth the inwards. And the two kidneys and the fat which is upon them, upon the inwards, and the caul that is upon the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away. And the priest shall burn them at the altar, an oblation before the Lord; it is a trespass offering. Every man of the priests may eat thereof in the holy place; it is most sacred. As the sin offering, so the trespass offering; they have one law; to the priest who maketh atonement therewith shall it be. And when the priest offereth a man’s burnt sacrifice, the skin of the sacrifice that he priest offereth shall be his. And every mincha that is baken in the oven, or made in the pan, or upon the baking pan, to the priest who offereth it shall it belong. And every mincha sprinkled with oil, and that which is not sprinkled, shall belong to all the sons of Aharon, to the one man as to his brother.

And this is the law of the Sanctified Oblations[3] which he shall offer before the Lord. If he present it as a thanksgiving, he shall offer as the sacrifice of the thanksgiving unleavened cakes sprinkled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and baken biscuits of flour sprinkled with oil. With the cakes he may offer his oblation of leavened bread for his sanctified oblation of thanksgiving. And of it he shall offer one of all the separated oblatons before the Lord: (the remainder) shall belong to the priest who sprinkleth the blood of the sanctified oblations. And the flesh of his consecrated thank offering shall be eaten on the day that it is offered, none of it shall be covered over till the morning. But if the offering of his oblation be a vow, or a voluntary gift, it may be eaten (partly) on the day that his sacrifice is offered, and that which remaineth of it may be eaten on the day after it, but what remaineth of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned with fire. If the flesh of his consecrated sacrifice be indeed eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted form him who offered it, neither shall it be reckoned to him; it is an abomination,[4] and the man who ate of it shall bear his sin. And if flesh that is consecrated touch any thing unclean, it shall not be eaten, but he burned with fire. Every one who is clean by sanctification to eat the consecrated flesh may eat the flesh that is consecrated. But the man who eateth of the flesh of sacrifices consecrated before the Lord with his uncleanness upon him, that man shall be destroyed from his people. And the man who toucheth any thing unclean, whether the uncleanness of man or the uncleanness of beast, or of any unclean reptile, and eateth of the flesh of sacrifices consecrated before the Lord, that man shall perish form his people.

And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: Speak with the sons of Israel, saying: You may not eat the fat of the ox or sheep or goat. But the fat of a dead carcase and the fat of an animal torn by a wild beast may be used in any manner of work, but of it you shall not eat. For whosoever eateth the fat of an animal that they offer as an oblation before the Lord, the man who eateth shall perish from his people. Nor in any of your habitations may you eat the blood of fowl or of beast: every man who eateth any kind of blood, that man shall be destroyed[5] from his people.

And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: Speak with the sons of Israel, saying: Whosoever offereth his sanctified victim before the Lord, let him bring the oblation of his sanctified victim (himself) before the Lord, his own hands shall bring the oblations of the Lord: let him bring the fat with the breast, that the breast may be lifted up an uplifting before the Lord. And the priest shall burn the fat at the altar; but the breast shall be fore Aharon and his sons. And the right shoulder (also) of your sanctified victims you shall give for a separation unto the priest. He of Aharon’s sons who offereth the blood and the fat of the sanctified victims shall have the right shoulder for a portion. For the uplifted breast and the shoulder of separation of the sacrifices of the Beni Israel I have given to Aharon the priest and to his sons by and everlasting statue[6] form the sons of Israel.

This is the anointing of Aharon, and the anointing of his sons and of the Lord’s oblations, in the day that they that they present them to minister before the Lord, which the Lord commanded to give them in the day that they consecrate them from the sons of Israel, an everlasting statute unto your generations. This is the law of the burnt offering, of the mincha, nad of the sin-offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the oblation of the sanctified victims which the Lord commanded the sons of Israel to offer their oblations before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai.

VIII. And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: Bring Aharon near, and his sons with him, with the vestments, and the oil of consecration, and the bullock for the sin offering, and the two rams, and the basket of unleavened (cakes); and let all the congregation gather together at the gate of the tabernacle of ordinance. And Mosheh did as the Lord commanded him, and the congregation was gathered together at the gate of the tabernacle of ordinance. And Mosheh said to the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded to be done.

And Mosheh brought Aharon and his sons near, and washed them with water; and he put upon him the vestment, and girded him with the girdle, and dressed him with the robe, and set upon him the ephod, and bound him with the band of the ephod, and ordained him therewith; and set upon him the breast plate, and put in the breast plate the uraia an the thummaia. And he set the mitre upon his head, and place on the mitre, on the forehead of his face, the plate of gold, the diadem of Holiness, as the Lord had commanded Mosheh.

And Mosheh took the consecrating oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled of it upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, and the laver and its base, to sanctify them. And he poured the oil of consecration upon Aharon’s head, and anointed him to consecrate him.

And Mosheh brought the sons of Aharon near, and dressed them in vestments, and girded them with girdles, and appointed them with mitres, as the Lord had commanded Mosheh. And he brought the bullock near for the sin offering, and Aharon and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock which was the sin offering. And Mosheh took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about, with his finger, and purified the altar, and the blood he poured out at the base of the altar, and consecrated it to make atonement upon it. And he took all the fat which was upon the inwards, and the caul of the liver, and the two kidneys with their fat; and Mosheh burned them at the altar. But the bullock, with his skin, and his flesh, and his food, he burned with fire without the camp, as the Lord commanded Mosheh. And he brought the ram for the burnt offering, and Aharon and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram, and he killed it, and Mosheh sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And the ram he divided by his members; and Mosheh burned the head and the members with the fat. And the inwards and the legs he washed with water: and Mosheh burned all the ram at the altar: it was a whole burnt offering before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Mosheh. And he brought the second ram of the oblations;[7] and Aharon and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, and he killed it; and Mosheh took of its blood, and put it upon the tip of Aharon’s right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the toe of his right foot; and Mosheh sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he took the fat and the tail, and all the fat which is upon the inwards, and the caul of the liver, and the two kidneys and their fat, and the right shoulder: and from the basket of unleavened cakes that was before the Lord he took one unleavened cake, and one cake of bread (anointed with) oil, and one wafer, and set them upon the fat and upon the right shoulder, and put the whole upon Aharon’s hands and upon the hands of his sons, and uplifted them, an elevation before the Lord. And Mosheh took them form off their hands, and burned (them) at the altar upon the burnt offering: they were offerings to be received with acceptance, an oblation before the Lord. And Mosheh took the breast, and uplifted it, an elevation before the Lord: of the ram of the oblations it was the portion of Mosheh, as the Lord had commanded Mosheh. And Mosheh took of the oil of consecration, and of the blood that was upon the altar, and sprinkled upon Aharon, upon his vestments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons’ vestments with him, [and sanctified Aharon and his garments, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.][8]

And Mosheh spake to Aharon and to his sons: Boil the flesh at the gate of the tabernacle of ordinance, and eat it there with the bread which is in the basket of oblations, as I was commanded, saying, Aharon and his sons shall eat it. And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread, you shall burn in the fire. And form the door of the tabernacle of ordinance ye shall not go forth (for) seven days, until the day that the days of your oblation be completed; for seven days shall your oblations be offered, as hath been done this day, (as) the Lord commanded to be done to make atonement for you. And at the door of the tabernacle of ordinance ye shall dwell seven days and nights, and watch the watches of the Word of the Lord, that you die not; for so am I commanded. And Aharon and his sons did all the things which the Lord had commanded by the hand of Mosheh.

[1] Sam. Vers., “It is an everlasting portion.”

[2] Sam. Vers., “thou shalt divide it in pieces.”

[3] Peace Offerings.

[4] Sam. Vers., “a rejected thing.”

[5] Or, “shall cease from.” Sam. Vers., “shall be rooted out.” Heb. Text, “be cut off from,” “be excommunicated.”

[6] Sam. Vers., “for a perpetual portion.”

[7] Sam. Vers., “of the completion.”

[8] The clause in brackets is not found in some copies.

Commentary on the Command to Fellowship: A Jewish Interpretation of Hebrews 10:23-25

Morning Meditations

Yesterday, reader ProclaimLiberty (PL) commented on how he understands the meaning of Hebrews 10:25. Later, I responded by quoting Hebrews 10:23-25 and describing how I understand those verses.

The issue is whether or not Christians can take these verses as a general commandment to enter into fellowship with other believers. That is, does Hebrews 10:25 command us to go to church?

Maybe not, at least not exactly.

PL emailed me a detailed translation and explanation of Hebrews 10:23-25 rather than post it in a blog comment because he wasn’t sure how to deal with the needed typography. I think I can represent what he wrote correctly here in WordPress and I think it’s a much-needed perspective on addressing the pesky challenge of whether or not returning to Christian fellowship should be an imperative for me. I’ll continue to review Pastor Chris Jackson’s book Loving God When You Don’t Love…

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The Sefaria Haggadah

The Sefaria Blog

Sefaria is pleased to announce the release of the Sefaria Haggadah. The Sefaria haggadah represents some of the greatest features Sefaria has to offer – bilingual texts, multiple commentaries, and how many individuals can work together to build something great.

  • To start, our basic Hebrew text of the Haggadah is from daat, however we did edit it carefully to correct typos, errors and omissions.
  • We commissioned the English translation from Francis Nataf.
  • There are eight, count ’em eight classic Haggadah commentaries. All were translated from Hebrew into English by Rabbi Mark Greenspan of the Oceanside Jewish Center, and then contributed by Rb. Greenspan to the public domain via the CC-BY license. The commentaries are:
    • Ephod Bad אפוד בד by Rabbi Benjamin David Rabinowitz, published 1872
    • Kimcha Davshuna קמחא דאבישונא by Rabbi Johanan Treves, published 1541
    • Kos Shel Eliyahu כוס של אליהו by Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Harun, published 1938
    • Maarechet Heidenheim מערכת היידענהיים by Rabbi…

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Touching Chametz on Pesach

Sefardi Beit Sefer

Dried Fruits and Touching Chametz on Pesach

Today’s Halacha is dedicated in memory of the seven Sassoon children who perished in the horrific blaze this past Friday night. The entire Jewish nation joins in the intense pain of this family. We at Halacha Yomit send our deepest condolences to the grieving family. May Hashem send a full and speedy recovery to the mother and daughter, Gail and Tzipporah, and may we soon be united with the departed once again through the Resurrection of the Dead. And, as the verse states regarding the death of Nadav and Avihu whom these pure children share their anniversary of death with: “And your brethren, the entire house of Israel, shall cry for the burning that Hashem has kindled.” —————————————————————- Question: In my parents’ home, we have customarily always abstained from eating dried fruits on Pesach. After my marriage, I have observed…

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TORAH: TZAV

UNIVERSAL TORAH: TZAV

By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: Parshas TZAV Leviticus 6:1-8:36

THE ALTAR FIRE

Parshas TZAV is taken up with sacrificial laws and rituals. For many people, it is easier to relate to narrative portions of the Torah or commandments that apply in our day than to those dealing with Temple sacrifices. It is now one thousand nine hundred and thirty-six years since sacrifices were offered to HaShem in the Temple in Jerusalem: the last time was in 68 C.E., before the Second Temple was destroyed. Many people would find it hard to conceive how the sacrificial system could actually be restored in practice in the foreseeable future, given the apparent geopolitical realities of today. Moreover, nothing could seemingly be more remote from the sensibility of contemporary Jews and Gentiles alike than the daily ritual slaughter of animals, sprinkling their blood and burning their fat and other parts with libations of flour, oil and wine on the Temple Altar. [Instead of accepting the Temple idea, a world unable to make peace watches the willful daily slaughter and injury of human “sacrifices”, the civilian and military victims of global war and terror. in the name of what?]

The same world that resents two daily lambs on G-d’s Altar in Jerusalem happily slaughters and consumes literally millions of oxen, sheep, and other living creatures every single day for its own enjoyment. While meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and other gifts of G-d’s bounty are consumed in homes, restaurants, bars and canteens throughout the inhabited world every day, how many pause for a moment before they eat in order to bless the Giver of that bounty? How many stop to thank G-d after eating and enjoying their food, before continuing with other activities?

The Temple Altar may be more understandable if we think of it as a MASHAL or metaphor for the actual table at which we ourselves eat every day, containing lessons about the attitude with which we should go about satisfying this vital natural function. The daily “diet” of animal, wheat, oil and wine offerings on the Temple Altar corresponds to man’s daily diet, be it of animal and grain products, fruits, and vegetables or any of the other foods and beverages that go onto his table and into his mouth.

Maybe the reason why some feel uncomfortable about the sacrificial ritual is precisely because it presents our existential situation so starkly in the form of the animal blood, fat and other offerings on the Altar. It is a fundamental law of creation that higher life forms consume lower forms of life in order to subsist. When a lower form of life is eaten and ingested by a higher form, the lower life-form is “elevated” in the sense of actually turning into the body and feeding the activities of the higher life-form. As humans, our blood and fat are made up of materials derived from other, lower levels of existence, mineral, vegetable and animal. Our physical life-functions come to “feed” and serve a higher life-form: the soul.

The Temple Altar and sacrificial system come to guide us to elevate our own blood, fat and energy to fuel the fire of the Service of G-d on the Altar of our own bodies. The Altar fire is a metaphor for the human soul, which indeed can only survive in the human body through a daily diet of “offerings”, the various foods that “keep body and soul together”. Our bodies “burn up” the various nutrients we take in, just as the Altar “consumes” the sacrifices.

The body requires tending in order to serve as an “altar” for the service of God, just as the Temple Altar had to be tended. Our parshah of TZAV opens with the Mitzvah of TERUMAS HADESHEN, tending the Altar each morning by removing the ashes, followed by stoking the fire with wood to keep it burning bright. This opening mitzvah of the day in the Temple — removal of the ashes of consumed sacrifices — may be compared to what is normally the first physical functioning in a person’s day: elimination of wastes to cleanse the body for the service of G-d.

Keeping the Altar fire stoked was the daily task of the priests. So each one of us has the task of keeping the “altar” of the body, the digestive system and the liver, properly stoked with the right nutrients in the right quantities. As priests of our own bodies, our aim must be to keep the fire of the soul burning brightly every day — as a “fire offering, a sweet savor for HaShem”.

Last week’s parshah of VAYIKRA introduced the subject of sacrifices by setting forth all of the different categories of sacrifices and the various animals, birds or produce that are to be brought in each case. The major part of our present parshah, TZAV, is a continuation of the subject of sacrifices. TZAV explains the specific procedures accompanying the actual offering of the each of the different kinds of sacrifices. The parshah begins with the daily procedure of removing the Altar ashes because this was the start of the Temple service each morning. Removal of the ashes and stoking the fire were preliminaries before slaughter of the daily TAMID (perpetual) sacrifice and burning of its parts on the Altar.

TZAV continues with the procedures accompanying the MINCHAH-flour offering, the CHATAS-Sin and ASHAM-Guilt offerings, the SHELAMIM-Peace Offering, and another specific kind of peace offering: the TODAH-Thanksgiving Offering for those who have been miraculously delivered from serious danger (illness, captivity, shipwreck or being lost in the wilderness).

Some sacrifices, such as the OLAH-Whole-burned offerings and certain other offerings, were “consumed” only on the Altar and were not permitted to be consumed by any humans. However, the priests had a share in eating Sin, Guilt and Minchah offerings, as well as the Peace and Thanksgiving offerings. In the case of the last two, the person who brings the offering also has a share in it together with his dear ones.

The fact that a priest can eat from a sin or guilt-offering and thereby accomplish atonement for the sinner is a wonder. So too is the eating of an animal to make peace between man and G-d. What distinguishes holy eating from animalistic eating for the sake of pure self-gratification is the motive of the person who is eating — his KAVANAH (= intention). Having the correct intention is a recurrent theme in our parshah. The priest has to have the correct intention at every stage in the sacrificial ritual.

So too, when we eat, everything depends on our intention. The parshah is teaching us to eat with the intention of stoking the Altar of G-d with nutrients that we can elevate to His service by using this energy for our prayers and our mitzvot day by day. The blessings we make before and after eating serve us to focus upon this intention.

Eating may serve as a means of celebrating, as in the case of the TODAH-Thanksgiving offering. The rabbis stated that in the future, this is the one kind of personal offering that will remain. (Since people will be cleansed of sin, there will be no more place for sin and guilt offerings.) May we be worthy of offering the THANKSGIVING PEACE-OFFERING in the rebuilt HOLY TEMPLE in order to celebrate the true end of war and the inauguration of genuine peace with the coming of MELECH HAMASHIACH very soon in our times. Amen.

Shabbat Shalom!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum