Dedicated for a Refuah Shelemah for Rachamim ben Esther
Keep the Fire Burning!
This week, Parashat Tzav continues the discussion of the sacrifices that B’nei Yisrael were commanded to bring to the Bet Hamikdash. The parasha begins, “Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, ‘command Aharon and his sons,’ saying, ‘this is the law of the Olah offering.’” An Olah offering is one which is burnt entirely on the altar. Rashi comments according to Masechet Kidushin (29a), “Every place where the word Tzav--command is used, it is an indication that the Torah is giving us a command that should be carried out with zeal and immediacy for all the future generations to follow the same way.” It says in Tzav, “The fire on the altar shall be kept burning, it shall not be extinguished. A permanent fire shall remain aflame on the altar; it shall not be extinguished.” We can learn from this that we must keep a flame burning constantly within us for Torah and mitzvot. We must keep our enthusiasm as strong as on the day of our Bar Mitzvah and be careful not to fall into the trap of mediocrity. Now is the time to reinvigorate our dedication to Hashem.
Rabbi Frand says Aharon and his children were given the tremendous responsibility of the Temple Service. But the first thing that Aharon was instructed to do was “And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen pants shall he wear on his flesh, and take up the ashes to which the fire had consumed the elevating-offering on the altar, and lay them down at the side of the altar (6:3).” There is a biblical command known as “Terumat HaDeshen.” One of the first things that had to be done every morning, as part of the service, was to remove the ashes of the wood and offerings that had burnt the previous night.
The Chovot HaLevavot says that the Torah is particularly careful that people should not let things go to their heads, so they don’t become a baal ga’avah--haughty person. Here, the kohen thinks he is something special — and in fact he is something special. He is among the select few who were chosen to do the Avodat HaMikdash. The Torah, nevertheless instructs him, “Take out the ashes!” The Torah is very sensitive to human emotions and tells Aharon to begin his day by the lowly task of taking out the ashes, so he wouldn’t think too highly of himself.
One’s Honor Is Worth Something!
On one hand the Torah ensures the kohen gadol does not become a baal ga’avah, but on the other hand, the Torah is also very particular about the honor of the less fortunate. There’s a very interesting gemara in Baba Kama 92a. Every year, the people would bring the first fruit that sprouted for the season, and give it to the Bet Hamikdash and present them to the kohen. The wealthy people used to bring their Bikkurim--first fruits in golden and silver baskets. The poor people couldn’t afford golden baskets, so they had baskets made out of straw.
The gemara says that the gold and silver baskets were returned to the wealthy, but the straw baskets from the poor people were kept by the kohen. Rava asks why this rule applies, “Basar anyah azla aniyusa--the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” The rich man gives his basket and gets it back, while the poor person who can’t afford it, doesn’t get his basket back. Why is that?
The reason the kohen takes the basket is to bolster the ego of the poor person. Keeping the fruit in the basket makes it look like a more substantial gift. The Torah says, let the kohen keep the basket and let the poor person suffer the financial loss, but let him, at least, keep his pride and dignity. It’s better for the poor person to lose the basket, rather than take back the basket and swallow his pride. The Torah is very sensitive and goes to great lengths to protect a person’s honor.
I remember a person asking me about raising money for another Jew to help him make a wedding for his daughter. The fellow who approached me wanted to raise money on the other person’s behalf so that he could make the wedding. His question was that if he told people who he was raising the money for, there was no question that he could raise a lot of money quickly. The person who was in need was a well-known and respected member of the community. Although, if he didn’t use the person’s name and made the collection anonymous, he would not be able to expect that much, for these types of vague requests are made several times per week. I asked a Rabbi whether he should mention the name, which would allow him to raise more money, or keep it anonymous and raise less money. Immediately, the Rabbi said it should be anonymous — because a person’s pride is worth a whole lot as well.
A person’s respect and honor is worth a lot. It’s even worth monetary loss. Money can always be replaced, but kavod and pride are much harder to restore if lost.
Rabbi Fishman discusses the concept of the korban and sacrifices to Hashem. The idea of the korban Olah was taught when Noach brought this sacrifice after the mabul. After he brought the offering, Hashem declared He would never bring another flood to the world again.
When Avraham brought his son Yitzchak to be sacrificed to Hashem, Hashem rewarded Avraham with the very famous covenant, Brit Ben Habetarim, a promise that after galut, Avraham’s descendants will become a great nation, vast and strong.
In Parashat Tzav, along with last week’s Vayikra, we learn that sacrificing for Hashem and Torah are not for Hashem’s benefit, but for ours. Rabbi Fishman says to bring a korban is to bring a piece of oneself. We must have this attitude, to give pieces of ourselves over to Hashem and to serve Him with love, even in trying times. Hashem will always see our actions and reward us for our “korbanot” of today.
Hessed During Difficult Times
With the current pandemic, there is so much uncertainty and unpredictability in many of our personal lives. Whether it be financials, general fear of the future, or even, has veshalom, the loss of a loved one, there is no shortage of fear and anxiety these days. However, it is important to continue to give “korbanot” and sacrifice for Hashem, Torah and mitzvot.
Rabbi Maslaton had been involved in a terrible seven-car pile up this past week on Ocean Parkway. Videos of the accident were being sent over Whatsapp, and having seen the totaled cars, it is nothing short of a miracle that the rabbi had not only survived, but walked away without so much as a scratch, baruch Hashem!
Rabbi Maslaton spoke in a video explaining that he had been in his car on the way from a levayah, where he served as the tenth attendee. After the funeral, he went to pick up a check from a donor to give to community members in need for Pesach. Hashem protected him because he had just finished one hessed with the niftar and went on his way to bring tzedaka to those less fortunate. Although times are difficult, the rabbi stressed how important it is to keep doing hessed, to learn Torah (on Zoom), to pray, and to keep thinking of each other and taking care of each other. We have already seen this with the tremendous amount of tzedaka being raised this week, and the many many new Whatsapp tehillim chats established for community members and rabbis to have a full recovery from this terrible virus. Be’ezrat Hashem, as Pesach approaches, Hashem will see our korbanot and take us out of this galut, just like Yetziat Mitzrayim.
“Hachodesh hazeh lachem-- this month is for you.” We must make the best of our time, especially with this virus. Now that there is all this extra time, it is important for us to control the time and do the most we can with it-- hessed, mitzvot, and learning Torah.
While we are in isolation, there is also another lesson to be taken from this. Usually, each person has an obligation to perform a certain level of hishtadlut-- effort in their lives. When one needs to feed his family, he is obligated to try to work, when someone is ill, he is required to go to the best doctor he can, and when someone needs to get married he is instructed to meet shadchanim and go out on dates. But ultimately, it’s not the work that made the money, it’s not the doctor that cured the sickness, and it’s not the shadchan that matched a couple up. It is Hashem’s Hand. Now, more than ever, we can see how Hashem works, when our opportunity to do our hishtadlut was basically taken away from us. The money will still come and miracles will keep happening. We have to have the faith in Hashem and His capabilities, keep doing mitzvot and learning Torah, and everything will turn out okay.
May we learn from the parasha to be careful with our friend’s honor, no matter what his financial situation is. May we all be able to make sacrifices for Hashem and get closer to him. May we continue to do hessed, give tzedaka, look out for our fellow Jew, and make the most of this time, so that Hashem can redeem us from this galut and bring Mashiah b’meherah beyamenu Amen!!
Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey
Do we give the less fortunate the proper respect that they deserve?
Are we making the most of our time in order to sacrifice for Torah and bring Mashiah closer?
Aharon and his children were given the tremendous responsibility of the Temple Service. But the first thing that Aharon was instructed to do was to remove the ashes of the wood and offerings that had burnt the previous night. The Torah is very sensitive to human emotions and tells Aharon to begin his day by the lowly task of taking out the ashes, so he wouldn’t think too highly of himself.
The wealthy people used to bring their Bikkurim--first fruits in golden and silver baskets, while the poor people had baskets made out of straw. The rich man gets his basket back, while the poor person who can’t afford it doesn't get it back.
It’s better for the poor person to lose the basket, rather than take back the basket and swallow his pride. A person’s respect and honor is worth a lot. It’s even worth monetary loss. Money can always be replaced, but kavod and pride are much harder to restore if lost.
To bring a korban is to bring a piece of oneself. We must have this attitude, to give pieces of ourselves over to Hashem and to serve Him with love, even in trying times. Hashem will always see our actions and reward us for our “korbanot” of today.
Although times are difficult, it is important to keep doing hessed, to learn Torah (on Zoom), to pray, and to keep thinking of each other and taking care of each other. Be’ezrat Hashem, as Pesach approaches, Hashem will see our sacrifices and take us out of this galut, just like Yetziat Mitzrayim, and bring Mashiah quickly!
Eliyahu Ben Rachel
Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher
Avraham Ben Garaz
Sarah Bat Chanah
Esther Bat Sarah
Avraham Ben Mazal
Shulamit Bat Helaina
Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana
Rahamim Ben Mazal
Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther
Rafael Ben Miriam
Ovadia Ben Esther
Rav Haim Ben Rivka
Moshe Ben Mazal
Moshe Ben Yael
Yitzchak Ben Adele
Avraham Ben Mazal
Meir Ben Latifa
Chanah Bat Esther
Yaakov Ben Rachel
Malka Bat Garaz
Moshe Ben Garaz
Avraham Ben Kami
Yaakov Ben Leah
Mordechai Ben Rachel
Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal
Natan Ben Rachel
Saadia Ben Miriam
Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon
Margalit Bat Mazal
Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky
Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama
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