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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Parshat Tzav

More on Sacrifices and Offerings

This week's parsha is pretty similar to last week's. Not only do they discuss how the sacrifices, they discuss exactly the same sacrifices! Whether they be burnt offerings, sin offerings or peace offerings, all are repeated in this week's parsha.


The answer lies in the second passuk of each parsha.

VaYikra begins with: "When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to the Lord…" (VaYikra 1:2).

While Tzav begins with: "Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering…" (ibid 6:2).

The essential difference between these two parshiyot are the words "when" and "command".

Parshat VaYikra begins with the word "When". Essentially, no obligation is placed on the individual to bring a sacrifice. Yet, when a person feels the urge to bring a korban, he has a list of alternatives to choose from.

However, Tzav begins with "command". If no one feels the urge to bring korbanot to God, the priests still have an obligation to bring them.

Once again, we are faced with the need to worship God from inner desire and the ritual obligations of worship that are incumbent on all Jews.

That is the way the world is. There are moments when we eel the inner motive to do what is right. However, often we neglect our duties and obligations, necessitating rules and ceremonies to regulate us to ensure that we do what is right.

The challenge for the Jew is to take the extremes of these two parshiyot and to synthesize our essence to make our duties and obligations into inner felt desires.

Last year's Sedra Short on Parshat VaYikra, entitled: "The Korban Todah and Chametz" appears at

Another Sedra Short on Tzav entitled Understanding Karet" appears at

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