Weekly Parashah

Parashah Tzav

10 Nisan 5780 / April 4, 2020
By Rabbi Kirk Gliebe


This Weeks Readings:        
Torah:  Leviticus 6:1-8:36
Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-24

Brit Chadashah: Hebrews 9:11-28               


Parashah Tzav is read often on "Shabbat HaGadol – the Great Shabbat", the Saturday before the holiday of Passover. Why specifically was this day chosen? We do not uniquely celebrate the Shabbat before the holidays of Sukkot or Shavuot! According to tradition, more than 3,300 years ago, the Jewish people on the 10th of Nisan, on the last Shabbat of their Egyptian captivity, followed the mandate of Moshe to bring into their homes lambs, who four days later would become their Passover sacrifice, the blood of those lambs marking the doorsteps of their homes. Thus, before the commandment of the mezuzah, this sign showed a Jewish house for all to see. This Parashah reminds us of the Passover Lamb, the importance of the shedding of blood to mark the redeemed, and the requirement of sacrifice for our redemption.

In the Torah portion, we continue to read about the different sacrifices that were offered. There were many types of sacrificial offerings, such as the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, and the fellowship offering. The Torah portion also speaks about Aharon and his sons. G-d told Moshe to take Aharon and his two sons, along with garments, the anointing oil, and the bull for the sin offering, two rams and the basket of matzah to the Tent of Meeting. Moshe did what G-d told him to do, going through the process of making Aharon a Cohen or Priest. The Cohen was the one to make the sacrifices G-d commanded, to take care of the Tent of Meeting and teach the Israelites G-d’s rules for holy living.

The Haftarah portion speaks about a coming Day of Judgment in the future, but also about how the people were robbing G-d. G-d tells the people that they have been sinning because of their lack of generosity toward support for G-d’s religious institution for worship, the Temple. The Prophet challenges them to be honest before G-d, to demonstrate their commitment to Him by generously supporting the Temple and its service: the worship and sacrifice. G-d promises that if the people will wholly turn to Him, He will absolutely turn to them as well and bless them.

In the Brit Chadashah portion, the unknown author is speaking about the supremacy of Messiah Yeshua’s sacrifice. According to the Torah, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. But this system of sacrifice, though ordained by G-d, is inadequate in itself to provide full and compete atonement. G-d provided this instead outside of the sacrifices provided in the Torah through the unique sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua. His is the ultimate sacrifice to provide atonement for all sin once and for all, and is totally unrelated to the sacrifices laid out in the Torah. Everyone can experience G-d’s forgiveness, but only by personally believing in and accepting Yeshua’s unique sacrifice for themselves.

Parashah Tzav is almost entirely about the sacrifices, which were first made in the Tabernacle, then the Temples, the first built by King Solomon and then later rebuilt after the return of the Jewish community from the Babylonian exile. Today, we have no Temple, and we can’t practice all of the instructions of the Torah, concerning these sacrifices. Nevertheless, the instructions that are associated with the sacrifices should not be forgotten. They should instead lead us to a heart of gratitude and generosity toward G-d for the redemption we have received for all of our sin through the sacrifice of our Messiah Yeshua, our ultimate Passover Lamb.