Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,
Parashat Tzav contains instructions for the kohanim/priests on how to conduct the various types of offerings in the Temple and also describes the ordination of Aaron and his sons as the kohanim. It also references the eternal light (ner tamid), a fixture in every synagogue.
There is an interesting connection in Tzav with the upcoming festival of Passover in that the three matzot of the offering for thanksgiving (one type of offering) remind us of the three matzot at the Passover Seder (the thanksgiving offering was brought by an individual as an expression of thanks to God by someone who experienced any of four specific kinds of danger: a captive who was freed, a person who crossed the sea, a person who made it through the desert, or one who recovered from an illness.
Judaism is continually evolving, and prayer has replaced the offerings once brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Prophet Micah spoke of this most eloquently (as translated by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg):"With what shall I come before the Lord? ...with burnt offerings or with calves of a year old? ...will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams... rivers of oil (libations)? ... God, has told you, man, what is good and what does God [really] ask of you? Only to do justly, offer covenantal love, and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:6-8).
D'var Acher/an additional teaching:
The Shabbat before Passover is known as Shabbat HaGadol (The Great Shabbat) in commemoration of the 'great miracle' that happened in Egypt on this day, heralding the Exodus from Egypt a few days later. Shabbat HaGadol customs include reading a portion of the haggadah (the section from "Avadim hayinu..." that tells the story of the Exodus) and a teaching by the rabbi from the bimah (one of the few during the year, and especially lengthy!) elaborating on the laws of Passover and their significance to help prepare the community for the festival.
As we go about our preparations for the seder, please take some time to think also about the 'chametz of the soul'...things that you want to purge from your life. This type of chametz includes baggage we carry from broken promises, failed relationships and personal disappointments...and messages such as 'I'm not good enough'. When we clean out this chametz, we free ourselves to move closer to our potential and Divine purpose.
The haftarah for this special Shabbat describes the results of our work in preparing for Pesach: I will surely open the floodgates of the sky for you and pour down blessings on you (Malachi 3:10).
Light Yom Tov Passover candles Saturday night after 7:22 p.m. (Make Havdalah first. The version for when Passover starts on a Saturday night is found in many haggadot...we don't go from 'kodesh l'chol' (from sacred to everyday) but from 'kodesh to kodesh' (sacred to sacred) so it's a bit different).
A kavannah for Shabbat Tzav-Shabbat HaGadol
Holy One, may my search for chametz, both the physical and the spiritual, shed great light - opening my heart and the hearts of those I love to more readily express and experience love and in so doing, draw down blessings on us all.
Rabbi Sharfman was asked, once again, to participate in a Podcast. This time the topic is about Passover. Here is the link to view the Podcast episode:
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman