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Tzav (command!)

Leviticus 6:1(8) to 8:36, Jeremiah 7:21 to 8:3 and 9:22-23


The morning offering was a minchah offering, and it is good to give gifts to God in the morning. The evening offering was an olah, and we have the most tendency to stray from connection with God in the evening.

The descendents of Aharon were somewhat dietarily segregated by gender: only men could share in the meat from the chattat and asham offerings (6:22(29) and 7:6); women could only eat of the sh'lamim offerings (10:14). Both men and women could eat of the minchah offerings if the word b'nei in verse 7:10 is interpreted to be inclusive of both genders, which the wording of verses 6:22(29) and 7:6 strongly suggest.

Traditional Jewish Commentary

The Tz'enah Ur'enah cites a midrash linking Tabernacle offerings with Proverbs 25:17, which reads, "Let your foot be seldom in your friend's home, lest he grow weary of you and hate you". God enjoyed when the Israelites would drew near to him with offerings, but would even more prefer that they did not seen and have less frequent visits to his dwelling-place!

The priest must wear his fancy clothing even when taking ash from the altar (verse 6:3(10)). Thus the rabbis teach that it honors God to dress neatly when fulfilling any commandment, no matter how menial the work.

The Tz'enah Ur'enah has two comments on verse 6:5-6(12-13) which twice state that the fire on the altar must not go out. First it says "We see a great miracle in the burnt-offering. The altar was made of wood and was merely coated with a layer of copper as this as a gold coin. Although the fire constantly burned on it, it did not burn up." Second, it teaches, "Another thing which we see from the burnt-offering is that God will punish the wicked in hell...The fires of hell, too, will burn eternally for the wicked, because they refused to atone for their sins by the means of sacrifices." It is interesting how this was taught so long after the sacrifices were ended, and how quickly belief in hell has left much of Judaism in the late 20th Century.

The Tz'enah Ur'enah also includes in this week's commentary a teaching startlingly similar to Revelation 21:16:

It was a great miracle that all of the people, numbering 600,000, stood in front of the Tabernacle's door, which was not at all large (verse 8:4). In astonishment, Moshe asked God: "How is it possible that Israel, numbering sixty times 10,000, can fit in the space in front of the door? And that number does not even include those under the age of twenty, of whom there are many!"

God replied: "With Me it is no wonder. I stretched the entire heaven out of one thread. There were numerous thousands on Mount Sinai—how did they all fit there?" At that time God wrought a miracle and stretched the mountain out wide; in the same way He expanded the area in front of the Tabernacle entrance, commanding it to enlarge itself to take in all of Israel.

Likewise, when Mashiach comes and everyone who has died since Adam will come back to life, all will go up to Yerushalayim, and God will extend the Holy City so that it can receive them all.

Normally the priest eats the breast and right thigh of a sh'lamim offering. For the miluim offering of ordination, Moshe gets the breast and God gets the right thigh. Thus God showed that he was cooperating with Moshe to ordain Aharon and his sons.