Rabbi’s Message

The weekly Parsha – Parshas Tzav

Published on March 17, 2019

Parshas Tzav enumerates and explains detailed laws of various sacrifices. Some of these are introduced by the phrase “This is the teaching of…” (as in “This is the teaching of the burnt-offering… This is the teaching of the sin-offering… This is the teaching of the guilt-offering…”). The Talmud infers from this expression that when someone is involved in the study of the laws and teachings of a sacrifice, it is accounted to him as if he had actually offered that sacrifice. Hence the prophetic utterance, “Our lips will compensate for the bullocks” (Hosea 14.3).

This concept of “it is accounted to him as if…” does not mean that it is merely a reward for studying these laws. Nor does it mean that it simply affects atonement just like the sacrifices that used to be brought in the Sanctuary. The recitation and review of the laws, according to numerous views, is regarded as an actual offering of sacrifices, to the point of a Halachic ruling that “one should recite them only in the day-time because sacrifices are not offered at night.” Likewise, there are a number of other rulings stipulating that the recitation of sacrifice-passages is to reflect the manner of the actual offerings.

The obvious implication is that the teachings relating to the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) and sacrifices are relevant even now in the time of galut (exile) when, unfortunately, we do not have the Sanctuary, and the actual offering of sacrifices is temporarily discontinued.

The recitation and study of the teachings of sacrifices, like their actual offerings, affect not only personal atonement, but also elicit the presence of the Shechinah upon the individual involved in that recitation, and also upon the very place of the Holy Temple, just as when it existed physically in our midst.

Each one, therefore, must realize the tremendous responsibility of his or her service of G‑d with Torah and mitzvot. A deficiency in these relates not only to his/her individual obligation of “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell in their midst” (Terumah 25:8), i.e., within each and every one of them, but also in drawing forth the Shechinah for all of Israel and for the whole world.

In turn, every individual’s effort and contribution in Torah and prayer has an inestimable positive effect for the whole world. Thus it hastens the time when we shall again be able to offer sacrifices “in accordance with Your (G‑d’s) Will”-in the third Beit Hamikdash which will descend from Heaven and become revealed to us with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our own days, very soon indeed.