THE TORAH READING FOR 14 NISAN 5781 MARCH 26-27, 2021
“For though my faith is not yours and your faith is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness of the world.” – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/tzav
Tzav (צַו — Command [Aaron and His Sons]) – Leviticus 6:1-8:36
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: “Command Aaron and his sons thus: This is the ritual of the burnt offering: The burnt offering itself shall remain where it is burned upon the altar all night until morning, while the fire on the altar is kept going on it.” – Leviticus 6:1-2
- The five sacrifices that the priests are to perform are described. (6:1-7:38)
- Limitations on the consumption of meat are delineated. (7:17-27)
- Details about the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests and the preparation of the Tabernacle as a holy place are given. (8:1-36)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzav
When the parashah coincides with Shabbat HaGadol (the special Sabbath immediately before Passover — as it does [this year]), the haftarah is Malachi 3:4–24. Shabbat HaGadol means “the Great Sabbath,” and the haftarah for the special Sabbath refers to a great day that God is preparing.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
Tzav (צַו — Hebrew for “command”) – Leviticus 6:1-8:36
The parashah teaches how the priests performed the sacrifices and describes the ordination of Aaron and his sons.
[The triennial reading, Lev 7:11-38, covers the peace offering also called the sacrifices of wellbeing (שְׁלָמִים, sh’lamim),] if offered for thanksgiving, [it] was to be offered with unleavened cakes or wafers with oil, which would go to the priest who dashed the blood of the peace offering. All the meat of the peace offering had to be eaten on the day that it was offered. If offered as a votive or a freewill offering, it could be eaten for two days, and what was then left on the third day was to be burned.
Meat that touched anything unclean could not be eaten; it had to be burned. And only a person who was unclean could not eat meat from peace offerings, at pain of exile. One could eat no fat or blood, at pain of exile.
The person offering the peace offering had to present the offering and its fat himself, the priest would burn the fat on the altar, the breast would go to the priests, and the right thigh would go to the priest who offered the sacrifice.
In Modern Interpretation – Leviticus chapters 6–7
[The late Biblical Scholar Conservative Rabbi Jacob] Milgrom noted that Leviticus 6:1–7:21 sets forth some of the few laws (along with Leviticus 10:8–15 and 16:2–28) reserved for the Priests alone, while most of Leviticus is addressed to all the Israelite people.
The 20th century Reform Rabbi Bernard Bamberger noted that while the Rabbis introduced into the synagogue a number of practices formerly associated with the Temple, they made no provision for “interim” sacrifices, even though they could have found precedents for sacrifice outside Jerusalem. When the Roman Empire destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, the Rabbis did not choose to follow those precedents for sacrifice elsewhere, but instead set up a substitute, declaring the study of the sacrificial laws as acceptable to God as sacrifices. Bamberger suggested that some scholars may have felt that the day of sacrifice had passed.
In Critical Analysis
Scholars who follow the Documentary Hypothesis attribute the parashah to the Priestly source who wrote in the 6th or 5th century BCE.
REFLECTION – Violence and Freedom
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzav
Professor James Kugel of Bar Ilan University reported that ancient texts offered several explanations for why peoples of the ancient Near East sacrificed animals: to provide the deity food (see Numbers 28:2); to offer the life of the slaughtered animal as a substitute for the offerer’s; to give a costly possession as a sign of fealty or in the hope of receiving still more generous compensation from the deity. Kugel reported that more recent explanations saw the sacrifice as establishing a tangible connection between the sacrificer and the deity, while others stress the connection of the sacred with violence or see the function of religion as defusing violence that would otherwise be directed at people. Kugel argued that the Israelites conceived of animal sacrifices as the principal channel of communication between the people and God. Professor William Hallo, formerly of Yale University, described sacrifice as a sacred-making of the human consumption of animal meat that followed.
The late Flory Jagoda wrote a song in Ladino titled “Pesach a la mano” (Pesach is at hand!) And so it is. This Shabbat, immediately preceding Pesach, is called the Great Sabbath, Shabbat HaGadol. There are various explanations for this designation. Suffice it to say, on this Shabbat we again proclaim our declaration of independence from Egypt and the “gods” around us. See the 14 April 2016 article by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin found at the following website: https://jewishstandard.timesofisrael.com/whats-so-great-about-shabbat-hagadol/
Pesach commemorates the story of our Liberation, our foundational myth. A myth is a truth told in terms that we can relate to and understand. While we celebrate it annually, this year our story of freedom from Egypt and false gods seems particularly significant.
Recently a close friend near Brussels sent me an article on Belgium’s handling of the COVID pandemic. Any American Libertarian could have written it. Simply substitute US for Belgium – exactly the same complaints, criticisms and code words. That is not to downplay the serious issues that he and the rest of Belgium have gone through in the last year or so. From my perspective, it has been pretty severe and at times draconian. What follows is part of our email exchange on this topic.
My friend wrote, “Coming from a conservative complacent society it is amazing to read this. I do agree with most [of] what was written. This is a ‘let George do it’ culture. The George’s are taking advantage of the situation…. At least we aren’t at war yet.”
I responded, “… do you think war is imminent? I agree that when citizens are apathetic there are those who step in and take advantage. The same thing happens here. Except here it seems to be based on feelings of powerlessness rather than let the ‘Georges’ do it. Here those with money and power seem to be behind all of the shenanigans in concerted effort to retain and increase their money and power.”
He replied, “At this time most countries have disarmed most of their military so a conventional war is not possible. Destruction of countries will come through economic means. For example, the EU blocked covid injections to the UK today despite the UK already buying them. Even though the EU did not prepare properly for [vaccinating its] population they are playing hardball and blocking injections manufactured here despite other countries buying the injections. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.”
I responded, “Definitely! Also, another aspect of war is the marginalization of individuals and groups based on color, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Excluding and denigrating these people makes them more vulnerable and more likely to be the victims of such wars.” In short, we and the stranger among us are put in danger.
Belgium has its “Georges”, the US its “Karens” – privileged demanders. Worship of false gods is still with us as evidenced by those seeking by any means possible to keep and augment their money and power. The worship of these false gods and the marginalization of individuals and groups of people lead to the recent rise in anti-Semitism, anti-Asian violence, mass shootings and other forms of war against us and the stranger among us.
We are told that Torah commands us at least 36 times (some say 46) to welcome and take care of the stranger. This is more often than it commands us to keep Shabbat. I agree with those who “see the function of religion [especially observing Shabbat and Pesach] as defusing violence that would otherwise be directed at people.”
From the Jewish Federation Orange County website: https://jewishorangecounty.org/resources/news/welcoming-the-stranger
“Passover represents the core values that we as Jews believe in: empathy, social justice, fighting for the rights of the marginalized. And on Passover, we are reminded that it is a mitzvah – a commandment – to welcome the stranger, for we were strangers in the land of Egypt….”
Chag Pesach Sameach – Paskue Dulce – Zisen Pesach!
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence especially against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and all other minority communities, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, COVID-19, natural disasters, war and violence – including those who died on the assault of the US Capitol on January 6, those who died as a result of the attack on three Atlanta spas on March 16, and those who died due to the shooting rampage in a grocery store in Boulder on March 22.
This coming week, the 14th through the 20th of Nisan, we lovingly remember:
Mother of Bob Behrstock
TKH Memorial Board
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, March 26, 2021.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Tzav (triennial part) Lev 7:11-38
Time: Mar 26, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Mar 26, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
PS – Pesach starts Saturday evening. At Temple Kol Hamidbar we will celebrate a community online Second Night Inclusion Seder led by Dr. Sam Caron, President, and Doug Annino, Lay Leader, on Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 6 PM. Please read Dr. Caron’s emails for details and RSVP.