Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Parshat Tzav

The Korban Todah and Chametz

Last week we saw that it was forbidden to burn chametz on the altar (VaYikra 2:11). Indeed, Chametz cannot be brought with any of the korbanot, aside from two: The Shtei Halechem (ibid 23:17) and the Korban Todah, the thanksgiving sacrifice (ibid 7:13), which is in this week's parsha.

Aside from the Chametz aspect, the Korban Todah and the Korban Pesach are very similar sacrifices:

  • They are the only korbanot that are brought with bread/matzah (ibid and Shemot 12:8).
  • They are the only korbanot that must be eaten by the morning after their sacrifices (VaYikra 7:15 & Shemot 12:10).
  • Both korbanot can be eaten by non-kohanim.

Indeed, these korbanot are very similar in their essence. The Chizkuni explains the reason that the Korban Todah must be consumed by the morning. It is impossible for one person to eat an entire animal by himself. This law forces the person to invite a large group of people to join him in eating the Korban Todah. He is therefore, required to supply them with bread in order to make a seudat mitzvah. During the course of this meal they would naturally discuss the reason why the person brought this thanksgiving sacrifice. Indeed, the person would explain "Know that the Lord He is God; it is He that has made us" (Tehillim 100 – Mizmor LeTodah, which is not recited on Passover, because it could not be sacrificed then because of the chametz).

Thereby, a large group of people would be made aware of the miracle that God had done for this man.

This is the essence of the Korban Pesach. A large group of people must sit together to enjoy the meal and they have the duty to discuss the Exodus from Egypt, the miracle that God performed for the entire Jewish people, and the reason why the Korban Pessach is being brought. This is the mitzvah of "Maggid" and Jews today fulfill this mitzvah by reciting the Hagadah on Seder Night, the first night of Pessach.

It turns out that the Korban Pessach is a national Korban Todah and hence their similarities.

Of course, while a regular Korban Todah needed chametz bread, this was not possible for the Korban Pessach, as chametz is forbidden for the whole of Passover.

Last years' Sedra Short on Parshat Tzav, entitled: " Understanding Karet" appears at

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