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 Parshas Tzav - Vol. 4, Issue 25
Compiled by Oizer Alport


V’heirim es hadeshen asher tochal ha’aish es haolah al hamizbeiach … v’hotzee es hadeshen el mi’chutz l’machaneh (6:3-4)

Parshas Tzav begins with the mitzvah of removing the ashes of the consumed sacrifices from the Altar. Although it was necessary in a practical sense to take away the accumulated ashes, why did Hashem make it a mitzvah to do so?

The Shelah HaKadosh explains that the mitzvah of removing the ashes symbolically hints that after a person has repented and offered a sacrifice in the Temple to complete his atonement, his previous mistakes are forgotten and no longer mentioned. By requiring the Kohen to remove all physical reminders of his offering, the Torah alludes that from now on he is to be respected as any other upstanding Jew.  In fact, the Gemora teaches (Berachos 34b) that repented former sinners are able to stand on a higher level than even the completely righteous.

For the same reason, the Kli Yakar writes (6:9) that the Korban Asham and Chatas (Guilt and Sin-Offerings), which are brought to atone for transgressions, are referred to by the Torah as the Holiest of Holies. The Gemora in Yoma (86b) teaches that a person who repents out of love for Hashem will have his misdeeds not just erased but turned into merits. Although the totally righteous are considered “holy,” the extra merits accrued through proper repentance transform a sacrifice ostensibly associated with sin into something even greater, “the Holiest of Holies.”


Aish tamud tukad al hamizbeiach lo sich’beh (6:6)

            The Shelah HaKadosh writes in the name of Rav Moshe Cordovero that a person who is being troubled by sinful thoughts should repeat this verse, which will help him remove the forbidden ideas from his mind. The Shelah HaKadosh adds that it is clear that to him this advice was revealed to Rav Cordovero by Eliyahu HaNavi himself, but in his great humility, he chose not to disclose the source of his knowledge.

Rav Shimshon Pinkus suggests that while there are certainly deep mystical concepts at work, we may also attempt to comprehend the logical understanding of this technique. The Ramban writes in one of his treatises (Derashas Toras Hashem Temimah) that the entire Torah consists of various Divine names, and every verse contains names relevant to the concepts discussed therein.

For example, Hashem’s name which is associated with the revival of the dead is contained in the episode in which the prophet Yechezkel revives dry bones (Yechezkel 37:1-14). Similarly, the Mishnah Berurah writes (98:2) that the recitation of the verse (Tehillim 51:12) Lev Tahor b’rah li Elokim v’ruach nachon chadesh b’kirbee – Create in me, Hashem, a pure heart, and renew within me a proper spirit – can be helpful in restoring purity of mind and heart.

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes (6:2) that the Korban Olah is burnt throughout the night because it is offered to atone for inappropriate thoughts, which are most prevalent during the night. In light of this explanation, it isn’t surprising that a verse discussing a sacrifice which effects atonement for impure thoughts also contains within it a special ability to ward them off!


Zeh korban Aharon u’vanav asher yakruv l’Hashem b’yom himashach oso … v’haKohen hamashiach tachtav mibanav ya’aseh osah (6:13-15)

            The Torah describes the special Korban Mincha (Meal-Offering) to be brought by every Kohen on the occasion of his beginning to perform the Temple service. The Gemora in Horayos (12b) rules that in addition to bringing this Meal-Offering on the day of his anointment, the Kohen Gadol was additionally required to offer this sacrifice every day of his tenure. The S’fas Emes posits that the difference between the Kohen Gadol and a regular Kohen is that the Kohen Gadol is required to refresh and symbolically re-inaugurate himself on a daily basis, thereby necessitating his daily offering of this sacrifice.

            Based on this explanation, the Ohr Gedalyahu suggests that we may derive from the Kohen Gadol that part of the definition of the word “Gadol” – greatness – is renewal. With this understanding, we may now offer a new insight into the special name of this Shabbos – Shabbos HaGadol. Some commentators explain that the word “Shabbos” comes from the root “shav,” which means to return. Shabbos is a time when everything in creation returns to its source, rendering it specifically suited for renewal.

In particular, this Shabbos corresponds to the time when our ancestors separated their sheep for the Korban Pesach and began to prepare for their imminent redemption. As the world begins to rejuvenate and herald the coming of spring and the physical world parallels the spiritual, Shabbos HaGadol represents a unique opportunity to begin our own personal spiritual rebirth.


Al chalos lechem chametz yakriv korbano al zevach todas shelamav … u’basar zevach todas shelamav b’yom korano yei’achel lo yaniach mimenu ad boker (7:13-15)

            Parshas Tzav contains the laws governing the Korban Todah (Thanksgiving-Offering). Although the Korban Todah is a type of Korban Shelamim, some of its laws differ. In contrast to a regular Korban Shelamim which may be eaten for two days and one night, the Korban Todah must be consumed in only one day and one night. Additionally, the Korban Todah is accompanied by forty loaves, ten each of four different types (7:12-13), a requirement not found in a regular Korban Shelamim. What is the purpose of these unique laws?

            The Netziv explains that because of these laws, a person to whom a miracle occurs will have no choice but to invite his friends and family to a special “seudas hoda’ah” – festive meal to express gratitude – to assist him with the overwhelming task of consuming such a massive amount of food in such a short period of time. Upon arriving, they will ask him about the reason for the gathering, and he will proceed to relate the events of his wondrous salvation. Through the unusual laws governing the Korban Todah, the Torah indirectly brings about a publicizing of Hashem’s miraculous ways and a sanctification of His Holy Name.

            Alternatively, the Imrei Emes suggests that while the Korban Todah is offered to thank Hashem for an open miracle, we must simultaneously recognize that we are constantly surrounded by His miracles on a daily basis. In the daily prayers, we express our thanks to Hashem for Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your amazing acts and kindnesses which are with us always, morning, afternoon, and night. When a person offers a Korban Todah, he has become aware of one of Hashem’s miracles, but there are countless others to which he remains oblivious. The Torah requires the Korban Todah to be consumed in only one day to symbolically remind him that tomorrow there will be new miracles for which he must be grateful!


Answers to the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1)     The Mishnah in Avos (5:5) teaches that there were ten miracles which occurred in the Temple. One of them was that the rains never extinguished the perpetual fire which was constantly burning on the Altar (6:6). Instead of miraculously sustaining the fire even as rain fell on it, why didn’t Hashem simply cause that rain should never fell on that location? (Ruach Chaim)

2)     A Kohen was required to bring a Korban Mincha on the day that he was inaugurated and first served in the Beis HaMikdash (6:12-16). The Gemora in Horayos (12b) rules that in addition to bringing this Meal-Offering on the day of his anointment, the Kohen Gadol was additionally required to offer this sacrifice every day of his tenure. For what reason was he required to bring this offering every day? (Abarbanel)

3)     The Gemora in Berachos (54b) rules that a Thanksgiving offering is brought to express one’s gratitude at being saved from potential danger. Today, in the absence of the Beis HaMikdash, we are unable to bring a Korban Todah but instead publicly recite a blessing known as Birkas HaGomel. As women were required to bring a Korban Todah after being saved from danger, are they also required to recite Birkas HaGomel, and if not, why not? (Shu”t Halachos Ketanos 2:16; Magen Avrohom, Pri Megadim, and K’nesses HaGedolah Orach Chaim 219; Aruch HaShulchan Orach Chaim 219:6, Chai Adam 65:6, Kaf HaChaim Orach Chaim 219:3, Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:195, Bishvilei HaParsha)

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