Torah Portion: Tzav(Give an Order)

Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:1-8:36

HafTorah: Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23

New Testament: Mark 12:28-34; Romans 12:1-2; I Cor. 10:14-23

Tonight we look at the second Torah section from Leviticus. It begins with the word Tzav or command. Here Moses relates G-d’s commands for the various sacrifices starting with the Tamid offering. This word Tamid means always or continuously. This burnt offering was given every morning and evening, every day. What did we learn last week about a burnt offering? It was completely consumed on the altar. Nothing was kept for use by the person or the priest. It was completely given to G-d. So what was the purpose of doing this every day, morning and evening as a national offering? It was an earthly way of showing that Israel, as a nation, was to be completely given over to G-d’s will and use every day all day.

Now my question for the week was about the fire burning continuously on the altar and what can we learn from that. There is a verse in the New Testament that helps us a little with this. It is found in Romans 12:1-2. Here we see Paul asking the Roman believers to take on spiritually this idea about this sacrifice and the continual fire that burned on the altar. This life that we have embarked upon should change us. Paul gives us a reason here which I am sure Moses and Aaron would have shared with the people of Israel. G-d had been merciful to them. He had saved them and freed them from bondage as He did us. So that mercy should motivate us to want to live our lives as a continual sacrifice to G-d – a continual burnt offering – one completely lived for Him. This fire that never went out should also be part of our spiritual lives. Why is fire used so often in scripture? It is an agent of change. It can be good or bad. Sometime we burn with a fire that causes destruction. Here we are reminded to burn with that fire which changes us from who we are to a sacrifice that rises as a sweet aroma to G-d. A fire that causes us to look everyday, all day, for how we can please the Father.

Which leads me on to the next point. Who likes to take out the trash? Do you ever try to wait out your wife or husband or children in hope that they will take out the trash? There is no glamour in this job. In scripture here we see in Lev. 6:1—13 where everyday one of the priests had to take out the ashes from the continual fire and dispose of it in a clean place.

The interesting thing is that there is a story in the Mishnah of how priests used to stand in line for this job even though it might be looked at as beneath them. My point in this is, every act we do during our day is a sacred act. Nothing is to be looked at as below us. If G-d puts it into our day it is holy and to be done with joy and thanks to Him for allowing us to take part in it. The real object, like here, is to be in touch with – or communion with G-d. The path is irrelevant. What we do is less about the glory of what we do and everything about serving and connecting with G-d. There is a Chassidic saying, “If G-d has commanded us to chop wood all day we will gladly chop wood.” I Thess. 5:18 gives us the same idea., “In everything give thanks.”

If the fire of G-d burns in us everyday all day this verse will live in our lives. No matter how high the act we do or who praises us for doing it the important thing is that G-d has given us a way to be closer to Him.