Parashat Tzav 5783

March 27, 2023

Click here for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Constancy and Careful Guarding: How to Link the Jewish Past with the Future A D’var Torah for Parashat Tzav By Rabbi Mitchell Blank (’21) This coming Shabbat is the last one before Passover begins (Shabbat HaGadol) and the Torah reading this year falls on Parashat Tzav. Both Tzav and Exodus 12, the chapter that details Passover observance, emphasize the biblical world view that constancy of action (temidut) and careful guarding of ritual (shemira) are the glue linking past and future generations. The Rabbis endorse these paths to Jewish survival yet also understand that the ultimate guarantor of continuity in an ever-changing world is intergenerational peace. Passover, the time of our freedom and redemption, is davka the holiday our sages choose to accentuate that the most important mitzvah is to maintain Jewish continuity by children and parents being in dialogue. Parashat Tzav begins with particulars of Olat HaTamid, the daily burnt offering. Intertwined in these details is...

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Parashat Tzav 5782

March 17, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Tzav By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11) This week’s parasha begins with a command to offer an olah, a burnt offering. The olah was not offered to expiate guilt or express thanksgiving. No explanation is given for it, and unlike other sacrifices, no part of the olah was kept to feed the priests or the family who offered it. According to Leviticus Rabbah 7:3, ain ha’olah ba’ah ela al hirhur halev, the olah is only brought because of the doubts of the heart. Perhaps those doubts arise from a sense that we may have sinned and do not know it. Or perhaps, we have failed to express thanks and must rectify the omission. Or, alternatively, as I learned from my teacher, Rabbi Jill Hammer, the olah is offered as a result of personal fear, and the sacrifice is an effort to strengthen one’s relationship with God, to form a deeper bond,...

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Parashat Tzav 5781

March 25, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’ver Torah for Parashat Tzav By Rabbi Michael Rothbaum (’06) At my shul, there are indications that we’re still in “Covid times.” With cameras and control panels, the sanctuary looks like a recording studio. We still have hand sanitizer dispensers all over the building. And, in the corner, there’s a cart of siddurim with a sign instructing people not to touch them. This last one, of course, makes no sense. The cart is from a year ago. We swiped it from the library — much to the chagrin of the shul librarian — and put it in the sanctuary. At the time, we asked people who were still coming into the building to leave used siddurim on the cart, where we would leave them for two weeks, until they were safe to use again. Remember those early days of Covid? When we afraid to touch anything? Since...

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Parashat Tzav 5780

April 3, 2020

An Offering of the heart A D’var Torah for Parashat Tzav By Rabbi Jill Hammer Parashat Tzav deals with the offerings that the priests and the people made in the Tabernacle for the purposes of gratitude, atonement, and daily celebration. These offerings included the olah (an offering entirely burnt), the minhah or meal-offering, the zevah shelamim—a celebratory offering where part was given to God and people ate the rest—and the hatat and asham, two kinds of sin offerings. This week, my attention was particularly drawn to the olah, the offering that is completely burned. I want to explore three ways the olah might be relevant to us at this moment. First, to me, the olah offering, an offering that is entirely given over, speaks to the powerful offerings that doctors, nurses, midwives, EMTs, and other medical workers are making right now as they serve those who are ill even at risk to themselves. This...

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Parashat Tzav

March 22, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Tzav By Rabbi Isaac Mann The prohibition in the Torah against the consumption of blood, which is expressed in this week’s parashah (see Lev. 7:26-27), is generally seen in the context of the laws of kashrut. Just as the Torah prohibits the eating of meat from unclean animals or from animals that were improperly slaughtered or were unfit due to organic disease, so too certain parts of a kosher animal, like the fat (heilev) or the blood (dam) are off-limits. In connection with the latter, the Shulhan Arukh describes various salting and draining methods to rid the meat of any blood that may have flowed into it in order to render it kosher. The pertinent rules and techniques are juxtaposed to the laws that deal with shehitah (ritual slaughtering) and tereifot (diseased animals). Interestingly, the Torah does not mention the prohibitions against eating the fat...

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