Shabbat Shalom! This week we are going to read the blockbuster parshah, Tzav. There are loads of insights to this week’s reading!

The Parshah starts off relating the mitzvah of taking a handful of ashes from the alter every morning (Vayikra 6:3). A different Kohen would do this task every morning, and this was in fact the first mitzvah of the day performed in the Tabernacle. When removing the ashes, the Kohen would have to put on his ‘less clean’ clothes. When re-entering the Tabernacle, once the ashes had been placed away, the Kohen would re-dress into his fine clothing. From this we learn that one should always dress up when at home differently from the way one dresses at work and for sure one should put on his finest clothing for Shabbat. In fact the Talmud relates that the Rabbis dressed up before praying during the Talmudic era (Shabbat 10a).

Next up, the parshah relates the mitzvah of maintaining a constant fire on the alter. Every day the Kohanim would place a few logs of wood on to a pillar of fire (Vayikra 6:5). This fire was not allowed to be extinguished, in fact, it burned uninterruptedly for over 100 years; 39 years in the wilderness, 14 years in Gilgal (as related in the book of Joshua) and 63 years in Nov and Givon. This fire was miraculously not extinguished (Zevachim 61b), even if wind, heavy rain or snow rained down on it. This fire actually brought about blessing upon the Jewish people as they fulfilled this mitzvah (Vayikra Rabbah).

The Parshah then discusses the meal offering of the Kohen Gadol (Vayikra 6:7/11). We learned in last week’s parshah that the meal offering was given by the ‘poor’ individuals as it tends to be much cheaper, so in order to not make the ‘poor’ people feel bad, the Kohen Gadol would bring his offering in the form of a ‘flour meal,’ to show how much of a distinguished offering this really was, making the ‘poorer’ people more proud of their offering, in fact Hashem considers it as if the poor person had given away his soul (Menachot 104b). This teaches us the importance of making less wealthy people feel good about themselves. One should not feel superior to another, and it is proper to treat people equally whether the person is financially well off or not.

Next up, the parshah discusses the ‘Thanksgiving peace offering’ (Vayikra 7:11/17). A Jew had to bring this if he had been liberated from prison, recovered from a serious illness, returned from a sea voyage or from travelling in the desert (Berachot 54b). We learn in the book of ‘Jonah,’ that after Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish, he survived and brought a Thanksgiving offering to Hashem (Jonah 2:10). When praying, one should not just pray when needing something, but also one should pray in gratitude for Hashem’s wonders. This offering featured four different types of bread that were waved with different meat in all directions to signify that Hashem is everywhere, just as a lulav is shaken during the festival of Sukkot (Sukkah 37b)!

The reading then goes on to relate how we may not eat the forbidden fat of an animal and not to eat blood (Vayikra 7:22/27). In fact, the prohibition of eating blood is mentioned many times in the Torah.

The Parshah concludes relating the seven inauguration days of the Tabernacle, where Moshe anointed the Kohen Gadol, Aaron and his sons who were the Kohanim, and also anointed all the components of the Tabernacle.

This week is ‘Parshat Hagadol,’ the Shabbat before Pesach. The Haftorah we will be reading is taken from chapter 3 of the book of Malachi, this Haftorah shows an urge for the people to trust in G-d and in the legacy of Moshe (Malachi 3:4/24).

Hope you all have a great Shabbat, SHABBAT SHALOM!