Parshat Tsav

Torah Reading for Week of March 25-31, 2012

 

“Becoming Closer to G-d”
By Rabbi Paul Shleffar, ‘06

 

In this week’s Parsha, Tzav, G-d, speaks to Moses instructing him to relate to Aaron and his sons, the instructions for the Olah, the burnt offering as well as for the management of the fire on the altar. The word tzav, which is at the root of the word mitzvah, is interpreted by many commentators to mean “to draw near.” It has been said that the Torah is, in fact, a relationship manual which teaches us not only how to relate to other human beings, but to the world around us; and to be near G-d. It seems that by prescribing these difficult, dirty and mundane activities for the priests, the Torah is actually showing us a way to be closer to G-d. It is showing us that it is possible to find that closeness in everything we do throughout our day.

Pesach is upon us and we would do well to remember the reasons for our redemption from slavery in Egypt, which, according to the Torah, is to serve G-d. When we pray in the synagogue, it is called a prayer service, the priests in the Temple were performing the Avodah, the sacrificial service. It is here that we begin to see the deeper meaning to what many of us often see as an anachronism, for what does it mean to serve G-d in these days or in our daily lives? What does G-d want from us? Is it prayer? Is it ritual sacrifice?  The Zohar teaches that “The Compassionate One wants the heart” and that we are an expression of G-d’s love. In other words, no matter what we are doing when we are the truest, fullest expression of ourselves, when we come from the heart, we become the embodiment of Divine love and light in the world.

Whatever we do may we be blessed with the passion, clarity and strength to do it wholeheartedly. The heart is the altar, and as it says in verse 6:6, “The fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out”.

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