This Week in Torah

Parshat Tzav

This week in Parshat Tzav, Moses once again acts in his dual role of both teacher and leader of the Israelites. We begin by hearing about how an individual is to prepare and present each kind of sacrifice, whether it is done out of gratitude or out of guilt, as well as how a priest is to receive each kind of offering. Shortly thereafter, Moses follows the instructions he’s both given to the Israelites and received from G-d to ordain Aaron and his sons as official priests of the household of Israel. In their time period, an ordination ceremony involved sacrificing a bull and placing some of its blood on various body parts of the ordinees once a day for a period of seven days. Personally, I’m grateful our ordination practices today differ from what our ancient ancestors once did.

While examining the Parshah, I noticed a curiosity. A good number of the verses end with the phrase, “ka’asher tzivah adonai et moshe,” “As G-d had commanded Moses.” Why does this phrase occur again and again throughout the Parshah? I believe this phrase occurs multiple times to bring to our attention how vital it is for us to take proper action when the need arises. I see G-d’s voice as a “kol d’mama dakah,” “sound of small silence,” (1 Kings 19:12) the sound of our conscience talking to us. Just as Moses acted in accordance with G-d’s commands, when our conscience speaks to us, we must answer the call.  If we do so, then we will be able to bring to fruition the words of the prophet Micah, “It has been told to people, what does G-d request of you? Only do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your G-d.” (Micah 6:8)

לא עליך המלאכה לגמור‫, ולא אתה בן חורין לבטל ממנה

lo alecha ham’lacha ligmor, v’lo atah ven chorin libatel mimena

“It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to abstain from it.”

Rabbi Tarfon, Avot 2:16

Cantor Rick Lawrence