Mar 23, 2019 By Ariella Rosen | Commentary | Tzav
As an educator, I find it a unique challenge at this time of year to generate meaning from the book of Vayikra, especially for young learners. Homemade board games, guided meditations, and not-so-literal reenactments have all been attempts to translate detailed descriptions of burnt offerings and differentiation of the clean and unclean, into accessible and relatable concepts in our contemporary experience of Judaism.
I wonder how it is, then, that this book has customarily served as a child’s first taste of Torah study, an idea highlighted in a midrash on the opening verses of Parashat Tzav.Read More
Mar 25, 2016 By Noah Bickart | Commentary | Tzav
Exodus 12:49 reads, famously, “You shall have one Torah for the one who is native born, and for the stranger who dwells among you.” The upshot is clear: the Jewish people, along with noncitizens who are present in their society, are to be organized around a single, egalitarian legal system. The experience of Mount Sinai was not only one of theophany (divine encounter), though it was that, but also of a revelation that continues through law. The experience of the biblical Israelite was one in which God’s presence was meant to be felt primarily through performing certain actions and refraining from others: God’s will is mediated and met through mitzvot.Read More
Apr 3, 2004 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Tzav
Despite all the detail in Parashat Tzav, it is not entirely clear what is meant by the zevah sh’lamim – often translated as “peace offering” or “offering of well-being”. It is clearly differentiated from the other sacrifices in our parashah because the worshipper participates in its ritual offering, and receives part of the animal for him or herself. In all the other sacrifices in the parashah, it is only the priests who take part in the ritual and the consumption of the sacrifice.Read More
Mar 23, 2002 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Tzav | Pesah
The experience of the exodus from Egypt, Yeziat Mitzrayim, which we commemorate on Passover, is indelibly marked in the collective consciousness of the Jewish nation. It is this notion — of having been slaves to the Egyptians — that plays such a profound role in defining the moral and ethical demands that the Torah places on us. Having known the experience of oppression, we are commanded to take that to heart, lest we turn to oppress our fellow human beings. Thus, Passover is a time in which we dwell on the essence of what it is that defines us as a people: how does our experience of slavery shape the way we behave today? What does it mean to be a chosen people? And how is that we as a people deal alternately with powerlessness and power?Read More
Mar 30, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Tzav | Tishah Be'av
The Talmud tells that at the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in the year 586 B.C.E., the following poignant scene unfolded: “Many clusters of young priests ascended to the roof of the sanctuary with its keys in their hands and said: Lord of the Universe, since we lacked the merit to be trustworthy caretakers, let these keys be returned to Your possession.’ They threw them in the air and half-a-hand, so it appeared, stretched forth to take them in. The young priests then jumped directly into the flames.
Mar 26, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Tzav | Pesah | Shabbat Hagadol
My father died in 1982, some five weeks before Passover. Till then I had never conducted a seder, except for the two years I spent as an army chaplain at Fort Dix, New Jersey and Taigu, South Korea. The custom in the Schorsch family since time immemorial had been to celebrate the seders in the home of my parents. Each Passover my older sister and I, with spouses and children, would happily converge on that sacred space to hear our father sing, read, and talk his way through the Haggadah and to savor our mother’s delicious Passover menu. My mother died the following year and my sister and I, awash in memories, are now the older generation. Ten years later our families are larger and more widely dispersed and the rendezvous changes, but the tradition of an inclusive family seder has not unraveled. I have assumed my father’s mantle.Read More