Dvar Torah Parshat Tzav 2016 5776 – Thank You Hashem!

Amongst the Korbanot (sacrifices) described in this week’s Sidra we read:  אִם עַל תּוֹדָה יַקְרִיבֶנּוּ, “If he shall offer it for a thanksgiving-offering…”. (Lev. 7,12) Rashi explains that this is referring to the four times that Chazal tell us a person must offer his thanks to Hashem. These occasions are: if one has made a sea voyage, or one has travelled in the wilderness, or one has been kept in prison, or one has been seriously ill and has now recovered.

In the days of sacrifices in the Temple in Yerushalayim such an individual was obligated to bring a thanksgiving offering. Today according to Chazal he must offer a prayer of thanks in the presence of a Minyan of ten people.

What this teaches us is that one should show appreciation when he finds he has been blessed with a special significant gift from Hashem. It also teaches us that when we are granted a gift from an individual, whether it be something physical or some form of help, we should not accept it as if it is owed to us but we must express our gratitude and appreciation. This is something that we often forget to do. We must be mindful and remember.



Dvar Torah Parshat Tzav 5774 2014

We are reading these weeks about the various sacrifices the Jews had to bring in the Temple for diverse purposes. One of the sacrifices was the קרבן תודה, a thanksgiving offering. This was an offering brought when one wanted to thank Hashem for He saved him from a serious difficult situation. Today, since we have no sacrifices, we recite instead the special Berachah which we call ברכת הגומל, the Thanksgiving Blessing.

There is an interesting Midrash that states: לעתיד לבא כל הקרבנות בטלים וקרבן תודה אינה בטלה, “in the future, all sacrifices will be abolished except for the thanksgiving offering”. (Yalkut Shimoni, Emor 643) Of all the sacrifices, why is the thanksgiving sacrifice the only one to survive?

The answer may be obvious. We must ever be thankful to Hashem for the blessings and for the wonderful favors bestowed upon us by Him. We must never assume that we deserve them automatically and do not need to earn them. We are obligated to always show our appreciation.

This acknowledgement of appreciation is also essential between individuals. We may find times when someone has done us a kindness or given us a gift and we forget to show our gratitude. Not only is this discourteous but it is a lack of what we call in Yiddish, מענשליכקייט, or simply good manners.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tzav 5772 2012

The Kohanim had to wear special garments when they performed their duties in the בית המקדש. If they wore regular clothes and not the specifically designated clothes of the Kohanim their service was void and was not acceptable.

Clothing is an important indication of a person’s status and often his profession. Soldiers, policemen and firemen wear a uniform. Most nurses wear a uniform. At one time doctors used to also wear a white uniform. You don’t see that too often today. Perhaps it is because they don’t want to raise the anxiety of their patients.

The Torah in this week’s Portion adds another requirement. The Torah says: וְלָבַשׁ הַכֹּהֵן מִדּוֹ בַד, “The Kohen shall wear his fitted linen tunic…” (Lev. 6,3) Rashi explains that the word מִדּוֹ “fitted” implies that the garb of the Kohen must be made to his specific measurement.

This may be an obvious requirement and there is no need to tell us, except that it teaches us an additional truth. A person must wear the garment that fits him. That means, he should not try to be what he is not capable of being. Not everyone is suited to be a leader, a teacher or a doctor. Every individual has his own qualifications and he must try to live up to his maximum potential and not try to overstep his ability. Trying to aim too high will at times lead to frustration and discouragement.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tzav 5771 2011

Moshe is told to instruct the Israelites that: ESH TAMID TUKAD AL HAMIZBE’ACH LO TICHBE, “A permanent fire shall burn on the Altar, it shall not be extinguished.”

It is not difficult to excite people to lend a hand to a worthy cause. As soon as someone comes up with a new idea that sounds worthy and doable people are ready to lend a hand. Jews have always been in the forefront of new movement designed to help others.

The problem often exists where after the particular movement or project begins to drag on people lose interest and begin to slacken in their enthusiasm and the project begins to fall apart.

When the Mishkan was erected and the sacrifices were brought on the Mizbe’ach people were excited. It was something new and meaningful. Hashem knew in His ultimate wisdom that people will soon grow weary and the sacrifices will diminish and the flame will go out. Hence He instructed Moshe to forewarn them that the fire on the Altar was never allowed to go out.

Dvar Torah Parshat Tzav 2009 5769 דבר תורה פרשת צו

VEHERIM ET HADESHEN ASHER TOCHAL HA’ESH, “…and he shall take up the ashes of what the fire consumed…”. (Lev. 6,3) Before starting the activities of the day the Kohen is instructed to first remove the ashes of the sacrifices of the previous day from the fire on the altar. This was a menial job, yet the Kohen had to perform it.

The twelfth century Rabbenu Bachya, the author of Chovot Halevavot, explains the reason the Kohen was given such a lowly task. Since the Kohanim had an exalted position they were given this humble task to teach them humility and prevent them from holding themselves superior to others.

Every profession and every position and trade requires people to do certain seemingly degrading chores that normally the person would consider beneath his dignity to perform. An example would be a secretary asked to bring a cup of coffee, or a teacher to discipline a rowdy student. These are part of expected duties of all professions. The intention of these menial tasks is not for the purpose of holding the ego in check, but it does have this effect to some extent.

Dvar Torah Tzav 2008 – 5768 דבר תורה צו

If a person transgresses and has to atone for his actions, we are instructed that the person bring a sin-offering and the Kohanim must eat this sacrifice within the confines of the Mishkan courtyard, not outside. (Lev. 6,19) When the Kohen Gadol transgresses and wishes to bring his sin-offering he must perform the ritual of the Korban publicly in front of the entrance to the Mishkan and not inside. (Lev. 4,4)

Why is there such a difference between the atonement of a private Jew and the Kohen Gadol? There may be many explanations for this difference but one in particular is very telling. The purpose for the Kohen Gadol to bring his sin-offering publicly is to show that there is no favorite treatment for the leaders of the people. Just as the individual must adhere to the proscribed laws so too are the leaders obliged to live by them.

Unfortunately, we find many government and even business leaders believe they have a different set of obligations. We often read about corruption and embezzlement. This is because these leaders consider themselves outside of the law. This is what the Torah is expressing. Even the Kohen Gadol has to live within the law

Dvar Torah Tzav 7 2007 – 5767 דבר תורה צו

Instructions are given concerning the fire on the MIZBE’ACH and how the Kohanim should perform their duties with regard to the daily offering. When the ashes accumulated on the MIZBE’ACH they had to be removed. The Kohen who removes them, according to the Torah, was to wear his BIGDE KEHUNA, his Priestly garments: VELAVASH HAKOHEN MIDO VAD, “And the Priest shall put on his linen garment…” (Lev. 6,3) and remove the ashes from the MIZBE’ACH. Later he was to remove these garments and put on plain clothes and take the ashes out for disposal.

It is interesting to note that even for the menial task of removing ashes he had to wear Priestly garments because he had to go up on the MIZBE’ACH. We see from this passage how extremely important it is for the way a person dresses.
To our chagrin, today’s fashions and the way people dress are far from what should be. Modern dress has taken away the dignity of a person and allows one to go around as if he or she has no self respect. Even the fancy clothes and those that people wear to weddings and other affairs bespeak the lack of dignity and modesty.

Chazal always emphasized the importance of one’s appearance. They criticized severely a Talmid Chacham who walked around with a stain on his garment.