Parsha Potpourri: Parshas Tzav


Aish tamud tukad al hamizbeiach lo sich’beh (6:6)

The Shelah HaKadosh writes in the name of Rav Moshe Cordovero that a person who is being troubled by sinful thoughts should repeat this verse, which will help him remove the forbidden ideas from his mind. The Shelah adds that it is clear that to him this advice was revealed to Rav Cordovero by Eliyahu HaNavi himself, but in his great humility, he chose not to disclose the source of his knowledge.

Rav Shimshon Pinkus suggests that while there are certainly deep mystical concepts at work, we may also attempt to comprehend the logical understanding of this technique. The Ramban writes in one of his treatises (Derashas Toras Hashem Temimah) that the entire Torah consists of various Divine names, and every verse contains names relevant to the concepts discussed therein.

For example, Hashem’s name which is associated with the revival of the dead is contained in the episode in which the prophet Yechezkel revives dry bones (Yechezkel 37:1-14). Similarly, the Mishnah Berurah writes (98:2) that the recitation of the verse (Tehillim 51:12) Lev Tahor b’rah li Elokim v’ruach nachon chadesh b’kirbee – Create in me, Hashem, a pure heart, and renew within me a proper spirit – can be helpful in restoring purity of mind and heart.

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes (6:2) that the Korban Olah is burnt throughout the night because it is offered to atone for inappropriate thoughts, which are most prevalent during the night. In light of this explanation, it isn’t surprising that a verse discussing a sacrifice which effects atonement for impure thoughts also contains within it a special ability to ward them off.

U’kli cheres asher t’vushal bo yishaveir (6:21)

The Torah teaches that an earthenware vessel in which a sacrifice has been cooked must be broken. Rashi explains that this is because particles from the sacrifice become embedded in the walls of the earthenware. After the passage of one day and one night, the taste of those particles, which would enter any offering subsequently cooked inside of the vessel, legally becomes “nosar” and is forbidden.

Tosefos in Avodah Zara (76a) points out that this explanation is difficult to understand. Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam both maintain that after the passage of one night, the taste of food absorbed in a utensil goes bad and is Biblically permitted in consumption. If so, why does the Torah require the earthenware vessels to be broken?

Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson brilliantly answers this question based on a Mishnah in Avos (5:5). The Mishnah relates that one of the ten miracles which occurred in the Beis HaMikdash was that the meat of the sacrifices never spoiled. As a result, the particles which remained overnight in the walls of the earthenware vessel became “nosar,” and their consumption was prohibited. Because the Mishnah teaches that the taste was miraculously retained without spoiling, it caused anything cooked inside to become Biblically forbidden, and there was no choice but to break it.

U’basar zevach todas shelamav b’yom korbano yei’achel lo yaniach mimenu ad boker (7:15)

Parshas Tzav contains the laws governing the Korban Todah (Thanksgiving-Offering). Although the Korban Todah is a type of Korban Shelamim, some of its laws differ. In contrast to a regular Korban Shelamim which may be eaten for two days and one night, the Korban Todah must be consumed in only one day and one night. Additionally, the Korban Todah is accompanied by forty loaves, ten each of four different types (7:12-13), a requirement not found in a regular Korban Shelamim. What is the purpose of these unique laws?

The Imrei Emes suggests that while the Korban Todah is offered to thank Hashem for an open miracle, we must simultaneously recognize that we are constantly surrounded by His miracles on a daily basis. In the daily prayers, we express our thanks to Hashem for His miracles which are with us daily, and for His amazing acts and kindnesses which are with us always, morning, afternoon, and night. When a person offers a Korban Todah, he has become aware of one of Hashem’s miracles, but there are countless others to which he remains oblivious. The Torah requires the Korban Todah to be consumed in only one day to symbolically remind him that tomorrow there will be new miracles for which he must be grateful.

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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1) A Korban Chatas, which atones for a sin one actually committed, is partially consumed by the Kohen (6:19), whereas a Korban Olah, which atones for sinful thoughts, is completely burned on the Altar (1:12-13). As doing a sin is worse than only thinking about it, why is the Korban Chatas more lenient in this regard than the Korban Olah? (Mishmeres Ariel)

2) Some of the offerings described in Parshas Tzav are completely voluntary in nature. If these mitzvos are so important, why isn’t their performance obligatory, and if it they aren’t, for what purpose did Hashem give them? (Birkas Peretz Parshas Vayikra)

© 2013 by Oizer Alport.