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   by Jacob Solomon

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PARASHAT TZAV 5776: D'VAR TORAH


This is the law of the feast peace-offering that one offers to G-dů Together with the feast thanksgiving offering, he shall offer matzot mixed with oil, matzot wafers mixed with oil, and loaves of scalded fine flour mixed with oil. He will bring his offering together with loaves of leavened bread (7:11-13).

The Talmud (Berachot 54b) brings the tradition that the korban todah, the feast peace-offering, is brought after safe delivery from peril. Based on Psalm 107, the safe delivery from peril includes surviving a journey by sea, surviving a journey through the desert, recovering from a dangerous illness, and emerging from imprisonment.

As explained by the Talmud (Menachot 77a), the animal brought as a todah was accompanied by 40 loaves in total, ten of each of the four varieties mentioned in the text. The fourth variety was chametz. This was an exception to the general rule that chametz was not to be used in association with offerings (c.f. 6:10).

The Sforno observes the large quantity of loaves accompanying each korban todah. He suggests that the ten loaves of chametz represent the element that caused the person's hazardous and unpleasant experience which he describes as se-or she-be-isa, the leaven in the dough. This expression (Berachot 17a, see Rashi there) symbolizes people's yetzer hara, evil inclinations. Indeed, G-d placed the individual in that critical and fearful situation as a reminder to keep the yetzer hara in check and return to Him at once. It would follow that the 30 units of matzot represent his gratitude for being saved and his recognizing the need to continue to keep the "leaven in the dough" yetzer hara in check.

That totals 40 substantial units of chametz and matzot. One of each was a gift to the kohanim (7:14). The other 36 were shared out by their owner, and 36 loaves can feed many people.

It is the eating of bread together that prompts conversation. It creates the logistics for G-d's miracle in saving the person to circulate and have a wide influence. People sit down to eat, and the very ambience creates the atmosphere where G-d's intervention can be told in an unhurried way and the guests listen, become enthralled, and remember.

As Rashi quotes in explaining the korban todah: "Let them give thanks to G-d for His kindness and His wonders to the children of Mankind" (Psalms 107:8).

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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