Torah Portion: Tzav (Give an Order) Leviticus 6:1-8:36
HafTorah: Jeremiah 7:21-9:24
In our Torah portion today we continue with the instructions to the priests on what to do and how to do it when kindling the fire on the altar and how to prepare the offerings brought by the people to the Mishkan and later to the Temple. In my last question for this week I asked you to compare Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:28 and II Corinthians 4:7 to see if you could see any connection between the two and any spiritual implications for us today.
Let us start by taking a close look at Vayikra to make sure we get all the details right. In Leviticus 6:27 we see the blood of the sacrifice could transmit its holiness to anyone who was touched by it. So holiness was transferrable from the offering to whoever was touched by it. This touching had consequences for the items which were used to prepare the sacrifice. If it was a clay bowl or utensil that was touched by the blood, it retained its holiness. How? A clay bowl can absorb some of what is place in the bowl. If the bowl was metal it could be reused because it does not absorb other materials but not if it was clay. The clay pot took on the sanctity of the sacrifice and could not be removed from the Mishkan because it was holy and to prevent its use for anything else it was broken. Even if the priest was splattered by some of the blood he had to change clothes and wash before he could leave the Mishkan.
So now with this background look at II Corinthians 4:7-10. Here we see we can be compared to earthen vessels (Clay pot) carrying around the treasure of the Messiah in our bodies. We have been made holy by the sacrifice of the Messiah for our sins. In the Mishkan the clay pot used to hold the sacrifice was no longer just a clay pot, it was connected to the sin offering. Shaul is saying we are like those pots that absorb and are made holy because of what they contain. We contain in this earthen vessel the presence of the Messiah which consecrates us forever. We have become holy because of the treasure within us. We are no longer a simple clay pot. We have been touched by the holiness of Messiah. G-d gave us this way to rise above being an ordinary clay pot. We may be pressed on every side but we need not break. We have only to grasp what we carry and we can rise above the trials of this world to be what the Father has always wanted us to become.
How do we do this? How do we stand and not crumble? I think the answer may be in Leviticus 6:12-13. Here we see the priests being instructed to never allow the fire burning on the altar to go out. It must burn continually. In my first question I mentioned that in Judaism the parts of the Mishkan have a counter part in the human body with the altar being compared to the human heart. It is worth noting that the candelabra and the altar of incense were kindled by fire from the altar of sacrifice, which stood outside. How can this help us see the connection between the altar of sacrifice and our heart? Without it burning, then the Mishkan would go dark and the sweet aroma of incense would not rise to G-d.
So how was it to be always burning? Each day it had to be tended to. It had to be stocked with fresh wood and any useless ashes being taken away. What can we learn from this? First, to keep the fire of G-d burning in our heart and Spirit takes work on our part. We can’t just sit back and expect G-d to do it all for us. Like the priests, we have to keep, everyday, the fire burning. We have to continue adding more wood each day – like prayer, reading and taking an active role in bringing the light of G-d to our world. If not, the inner light will go dim and we will be in danger of not being able to hear our Father’s voice or doing His will. We must make an effort.