Gates Parshas Tzav -- Passover
March 26, 2010
This coming Monday evening, March 29, begins the major
festival of Passover. Passover, known in Hebrew as Pesach, is a
national birthday party; it was then
that the 'Children of Israel' --- who
later became the 'People of Israel'
-- began their march through history with the Exodus from Egypt.
French author Andre Gide once said, "It is better to
be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not."
Have the Jewish people been hated? Without a
doubt. The Haggada reminds us that 'In every generation
they arise to destroy us, but the Almighty saves us from their hand.'
But what are we? Do the Jewish
people have a greater purpose? One of our worst enemies, Adolf
Hitler, blamed the Jews for "two great wounds upon
of the body and conscience of the soul."
Hitler well understood our national mission; to be a moral and ethical light
unto the nations of the world. Passover is the
celebration of the beginning of that mission. May you and your families
have a meaningful and joyous holiday.
Parshas Tzav Leviticus 6:1 -- 8:36
The portion begins with G-d continuing to teach Moses many of
the laws relating to the Mishkan service. However, while last
week's portion described the korbanos (offerings) from the
perspective of the giver, this week the Torah
focuses more directly on the Kohanim, providing detail about their
service. After first describing the maintenance of the fire which
burned on the altar, the Torah discusses in detail the various kinds of korbanos which
Aaron, his sons, and the succeeding generations of Kohanim would be
offering. The offerings must be brought with the proper intentions and
eaten in a state of spiritual purity. Finally, Moses performs the
lengthy consecration service of the Mishkan, and Moses anoints Aaron
and his sons for their service in the Mishkan, in front of the
entire congregation of Israel.
Passover begins on Monday evening, March 29. On the
first day of Passover, Tuesday, the Torah reading
is from Exodus 12: 21- 51. This reading describes the Exodus from Egypt and the
Passover offering. On the second day of Passover, Wednesday, the Torah
reading is from Leviticus 22:26 -- 23:44. This reading describes
journeying to the Holy Temple
in Jerusalem on the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Shevous,
Sukkos) and the counting of the Omer.
preceding Passover is referred to as Shabbos
HaGadol, or the Great Shabbos. What is it that makes this
particular Shabbos 'Great'?
The Midrash states that in Egypt
Moses was able to convince Pharaoh that the enslaved Jews should have
one day a week to rest. This day, Moses argued, would enable them to be
more productive than the other days of the week. So, the Jews observed
Shabbos while in Egypt,
and it was known as "The Day of Moses." Shabbos is, however,
much more than a day of physical rest.
A 'National Day of Uplugging' was
recently advocated by a secular not-for-profit Jewish group to 'unplug'
from technology on Shabbos. They suggested that all Jews put down their cell
phone, stop the status updates on Facebook,
shut down Twitter, sign
out of e-mail and reclaim time to slow life down and reconnect with friends,
family, the community and themselves for 24 hours. Doesn't that sound
like a nice idea?!
Contemplating the purpose of existence and what we hope to do
with our lives is a central goal of Shabbos. More than simply a
day of not working, a person who is truly free will utilize Shabbos
to choose their goals and determine their purpose. The Shabbos on
the eve of our liberation from Egypt differed from the
Shabbos that was "The Day of Moses." This was no longer to be
of rest for weary slaves, but a day
of spiritual uplifting for people who are free. That Shabbos was
-- just as each and every Shabbos can be -- a Great Shabbos.
(adapted from Living Each Day, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski)
Quote of the week
We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang
separately -- Benjamin Franklin
Joke of the week
Yankel, a Jewish actor, is desperate for work. Finally, he sees
a classified ad that says: "Actor needed to play an ape." To
his surprise, the employer turns out to be the St. Louis Zoo. Owing to
recent budget cuts and the recession, the Zoo can no longer afford to import
a real ape to replace the recently deceased one. So until they
can, they're prepared to put an actor in an ape suit. In desperation
Yankel takes the job. He feels undignified in the ape suit while stared
at by the crowds who watch his every move. Gradually,
however, Yankel comes to enjoy the attention, and begins to show off by
roaring, beating on his chest, and swinging on the trees and vines.
One day Yankel swings on a vine a bit too high, and goes
flying over the fence into the neighboring lion's den. Terrified, Yankel backs
up as far as he can from the approaching lion, covers his eyes and prays at
the top of his lungs 'Shema Israel!!"
The lion opens his powerful jaws, and roars the response, "Baruch shem
kavod malchuso l'olam va'ed!!" From a neighboring cage, the
panda yells, 'Shut up, you shlemiels. You'll get us all
fired!!" (heard from David Markowitz)