Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary
[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S> X:Y (Z)] indicate start of a parsha p'tucha or s'tuma respectively. X:Y is Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number of p'sukim in the parsha.
Numbers in [square brackets] are the Mitzva-count of Sefer HaChinuch AND Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot. A=ASEI (positive mitzva); L=LAV (prohibition). X:Y is the perek and pasuk from which the mitzva comes.
Kohen - First Aliya -11 p'sukim - 6:1-11
[P> 6:1 (6)] After the preliminary descriptions of the different korbanot in last week's sedra, we now find the description of the daily service in the Mikdash.
After burning all night, the fires of the Mizbei'ach are tended first thing in the morning (before sunrise). This first task of the day is relatively less important than other tasks, although it was enthusiastically sought after by young kohanim who vied for the honor of performing the mitzva of "T'rumat HaDeshen" [131,A30 6:3]. The kohen performing this task would remove the ashes from the Mizbei'ach fires and place them beside the Mizbei'ach. He would then change into other garments (of a slightly lesser quality than those worn for "regular" Temple service) and take the ashes to a specific "clean" place outside the camp.
The fire of the Mizbei'ach was to burn always [132,A29 6:6] and was not allowed to be extinguished ever [133,L81 6:6].
SDT: The portion from the beginning of Tzav until this point is one of the daily readings of the Korbanot section of the Shacharit service. It is very important to recite the portions of Korbanot, based on the concept of "And our lips will substitute for the bulls". The Gemara relates the following: Avraham Avinu asked G-d "what method will my descendants have to pursue atonement for their sins?". G-d told him that sacrifices will help bring atonement. Avraham then asked what will be during the time that the Beit HaMikdash will not stand and sacrifices will not be practiced. G-d's answer: "I have already prepared for that eventuality. As long as they read the Torah portions about sacrifices, I will consider it as if they actually offered the sacrifices, and I will forgive them their iniquities." This idea is hinted at by the words in the opening pasuk of the sedra: ZOT TORAT HA'OLAH - This Torah (portion) of the Olah - HI (sounds like the English word he) HA'OLAH... - It (the passage) IS the Olah.
SDT: The Mishna in Yoma describes the enthusiasm with which the kohanim would vie for the honor of tending the fires on the Mizbei'ach. When given the "go ahead" by the senior kohen in charge, the young kohanim would race up the ramp - first one to the top of the Mizbei'ach would perform the task. When it happened that one kohen fell (or got bumped) from the ramp and was injured (some say worse), the Sages changed the method of choosing from among many kohanim, to the less dangerous counting fingers around the circle of kohanim to a randomly selected larger number than kohanim present.
[P> 6:7 (5)] The Torah next returns to the topic of the "meal-offerings", the MINCHA. A small amount of the flour-oil mixture and all of the frankincense (L'VONA) was scooped up and placed on the Mizbei'ach to burn. The "mincha" was not to be made Chametz [135,L124 6:10] (there are exceptions to this rule, notably some of the Menachot that accompanied the TODA offering, which therefore was not brought on Pesach - this is why we do not say "Mizmor L'Toda", T'hilim 100, on Pesach. The other exception is/are the SHTEI HALECHEM, the two-loaves offering of Shavuot.). The rest of the "mincha" is eaten by male kohanim on duty in the Beit HaMikdash at the time of the offering [134,A88 6:9].
Levi - Second Aliya - 22 p'sukim - 6:12-7:10
[P> 6:12 (5)] Each day, the Kohen Gadol is to bring a meal-offering of a tenth of an eifa of flour (plus oil & spice) - half in the morning and half before evening [136,A40 6:13]. This mincha was not to be eaten [137, L138 6:16], but rather was completely consumed on the Mizbei' ach.
[P> 6:17 (7)] The CHATAT [138, A64 6:18] was slaughtered in the same place as the "Olah" (viz. the north side of the Mizbei'ach). An integral part of a sin-offering is the eating of its meat by the kohen (kohanim) who brought it on behalf of the sinners.
SDT: The Meshech Chochma points out that the kohen who dealt with the sacrifice is the one who should eat from it, because only he would know if his kavanot (thoughts and intentions) were correct or not. His eating of the sacrifice makes the statement that he indeed did and thought all that was required. (The punishment for a kohen intentionally eating of an invalid sacrifice - in this case, he being the only person who could know of its invalidity - is punishable by "death from heaven".) We see in this issue, a high level of accountability a person carries for his own actions. Sort of like a Mashgi'ach certifying the kashrut of a restaurant - would he himself eat there? One would hope so.
Certain chata'ot, whose blood was brought into the Mikdash, were not to be eaten [139,L139 6:23], but rather completely consumed on the Mizbeiach.
SDT: The Kli Yakar points out that the Torah commands the bringing of the Chatat and Asham (the Sin and Guilt offerings) in the same place in the courtyard of the Beit HaMikdash as the Olah in order to protect the feelings and privacy of the sinner. People who see him at that place can now assume that he is bringing an Olah and will not automatically jump to the conclusion that he has sinned. This is similar to one of the reasons given for the Amida being a silent prayer - this protects a davener from the embarrassment of something he might include in his prayer being overheard by others. This is one of many, many moral lessons that can be derived from the Korbanot.
Someone with very limited vision might ask, ìWhy should we ëwaste our time' learning about Korbanot?î Part of the reason (only part) is for the lessons we learn that have ramifications beyond the service in the Mikdash. Torah lessons are for always.
Shlishi - Third Aliya - 28 p'sukim - 7:11-38
[P> 7:11 (17)] The Torah next discusses the Sh'lamim, [141,A66 7:11] beginning specifically with the "Toda". The animal sacrifice is accompanied by various types of wafers and cakes. Parts of the animal are burned on the Altar, parts are given to the kohen, and the remainder is to be eaten by the bringer of the korban. The korban must be eaten by midnight (actual deadline is dawn; midnight is required as a precaution). It is forbidden to leave over any of the korban until morning [142,L120 7:15]; that which is left over must be burned [143,A91 7:17]. If the Sh'lamim is in fulfillment of a vow, its meat may be eaten for two days, becoming "Notar" on the 3rd day.
It is forbidden to eat "Pigul" [144, L132 7:18]. Pigul is a type of invalid korban, where that which rendered the korban unfit for the Mizbei'ach was not something physical nor a mistake in the kohen's action, but rather an incorrect thought (kavana), of certain types. It is significant that improper thoughts alone can effect the status of a korban.
SDT: The most severe lapse in a kohen's kavana is one concerning time. A lapse regarding place of the eating of the korban, for example, still renders the korban invalid, but is less severe, punishment-wise. If the kohein has in mind to eat from the korban at a time when it is no longer allowed, then that mis-kavana renders the korban ìClass-A Pigulî - This fits with our previous notions concerning Shabbat and the Mishkan, that the sanctity of time is "higher" (in some way) than the sanctity of place. (from a long time ago - but memorable drasha by Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld.)
It is forbidden to eat of a korban that has become tamei (ritually unclean) [145,L130 7:19]. This is punishable by makot. It is required to burn tamei korbanot [146,A90 7:19]. A person who is tamei who intentionally eats meat of a korban is liable to "koreit" ("cut off" by G-d).
Certain fats of kosher animals are forbidden to eat [147,L185 7:23]. This is the prohibition of "cheilev". There are differences between the cheilev of a korban and that of a regular CHULIN (non-sacred) animal.
Eating blood of a bird or mammal is a capital offense (from Heaven) [147, L185 7:26]. Eating meat with blood still in it is a lesser offense, but nonetheless forbidden. This is why meat has to be "kashered", not just kosher.
SDT: Rashi teaches us that the specific mention of mammals and birds in the prohibition of blood teaches us that the blood of fish and locust are not forbidden. Note that birds and mammals require sh'chita, and they are also the two classes of warm-blooded animals, as opposed to fish and insects.
[P> 7:28 (11)] What follows are more details of the SH'LAMIM: what parts go on the Altar, what parts go to the kohen, etc.
The Torah explains not only what, but why the kohanim receive certain parts of the korbanot. Done properly, we see the relationship and balance between the kohein and the people.
These are the rules of the various types of korbanot that G-d commanded Moshe on Har Sinai on the day that He commanded the people of Israel to offer korbanot to G-d, in Midbar Sinai
R'vi'i - Fourth Aliya -13 p'sukim - 8:1-13
[P> 8:1 (36)] Having set down the rules, G-d now commands Moshe to take Aharon and his sons, the garments of the kohanim, the sacrificial animals, and the anointing oil, and perform the inaugural ceremonies for the Mishkan in the presence of the People. Moshe dresses Aharon in the garb of the Kohen Gadol, anoints him, the Altar, and the vessels of the Mishkan. He also dresses Aharon's sons.
According to Rashi, based on the Gemara, the seven day inauguration period for the Mishkan preceded its being put together. This, says Rashi, is another example of EIN SEDER MUKDAM U'M'UCHAR BATORAH, that the Torah is not always in chronological order.
Chamishi - Fifth Aliya -8 p'sukim - 8:14-21
A bull as a sin-offering is brought and Aharon and his sons "lean" on it. (This is a vital element of most personal korbanot. It facilitates a psychological identification with the animal and adds meaning to the act of sacrifice.) Leaning (s'micha) is accompanied by confession (vidui) or words of praise to G-d, depending upon the type of korban. The bull was slaughtered and part of its blood was put on the corners of the Mizbei'ach and on its base. Parts of the bull were placed on the Mizbei'ach; the remainder was burned outside the camp.
The first of two rams was next offered, as an OLAH.
It is very important for us to under- stand that Korbanot were not "hocus-pocus, we're forgiven" offerings. It doesn't work like that. Never did. A Sin Offering, whipping by the Sanhedrin, even a death penalty, had to be accompanied by real T'shuva and Vidui. Without the heart in the korban-equation, the people were continually castigated by G-d for hollow meaningless acts and lip service. The ceremonies have deep significance and meaning, but the heart and soul of a person must truly be involved, otherwise the korban is (less than) nothing.
Shishi - Sixth Aliya - 8 p'sukim - 8:22-29
The second ram was then offered (as a SH'LAMIM called EIL HAMILU'IM) and several procedures, as specified in the Torah, were followed. Note that Moshe Rabeinu was an active participant in the 7-day inauguration period for the Mishkan. Thereafter, Aharon and his sons (and all kohanim) are the ones who perform the sacred service of the Mikdash.
SDT: From the description of the procedures of the bringing of various sacrifices, it is clear that the kohen is not merely a technician who is authorized to perform the service, but rather, he is an integral part of the bringing of the korban. This is seen by the various dabbings on the earlobe (some say that it was the upper part of the ear that is the T'NUCH, and still others say the cartilage in the center of the ear), thumb, and big toe of the kohen, etc. as described in this parsha. So too, the fact that the kohanim must eat of various offerings - not just to be fed, but to be active in the Korban process - indicates their integral involvement in the bringing of Korbanot.
Sh'vi'i - Seventh Aliya - 7 p'sukim - 8:30-36
Further anointing of Aharon, his sons, and their garments. Then Moshe told them to prepare part of the meat for eating with the accompanying cakes and wafers. That which was left over was to be burned. During the seven inaugural days, the kohanim were not to leave the Mishkan; they remained there as an honor-guard.
Rashi teaches us that in addition to this one-time isolation of 7 days, there were two other times the Kohein Gadol was isolated for a 7-day preparatory period. One is the week before Yom Kippur - this was every year, of course. And the other was for the preparation of the Para Aduma - this was once in a (long) while - Para Aduma was not a common event. This idea is alluded to by the words LA'ASOT (Para) and L'CHAPEIR (Yom Kippur).
Aharon and his sons did all that G-d had commanded through Moshe.
Outside of Jerusalem...
The last 4 p'sukim of Tzav are reread for the Maftir. The regular haftara of Tzav is from Yirmiyahu (7:23-8:3 and finishes with 9:22-23).
The main theme of the haftara is G-d's disgust with the people who bring korbanot but behave terribly. If the sedra talks of korbanot, we need the sharp reminder that they are not appreciated by G-d (so to speak, and putting it mildly), if the people don't listen to Him, don't keep His mitzvot, and turn away from Him. The final two p'sukim (following a skip in the reading) ask us not to be boastful about wisdom, strength, or wealth, but only our pursuit of knowledge of G-d and His qualities of Chessed & Justice.
In all 12-month years, Tzav is Shabbat HaGadol (and it is our present-day custom to read the Shabbat HaGadol haftara regardless of whether Shabbat HaGadol is Erev Pesach or not - Opinions "on the books" vary). In 13-month years, Tzav can be Zachor or Para, or Purim (Yerushalayim), or REGULAR (10% all over; another 3.9% outside Jerusalem).
Meanwhile, in Yerushalayim...
Maftir - second Torah - 9 p'sukim; Sh'mot 17:8-16
This is the Torah reading for Purim morning, which is usually a weekday, in which case it is read in three Aliyot of 3 p'sukim each. On Shabbat (11% of the time in Jerusalem; never outside Jerusalem), it is the Maftir in the second Torah.
As with Parshat Zachor, the reason for this Torah reading is the connection between Amalek and Haman, and between Yehoshua's fight against Amalek and Mordechai's. Whereas Zachor contains the command to remember, destroy, and never forget, this portion consists of the original account of Amalek's attack and the combined religious (Moshe, Aharon, Chur) and military (Yehoshua) response to the attack. We also
have G-d's commitment as ally in the perennial war against Amalek and its ilk.
Haftara - 33 p'sukim - Shmuel Alef 15:2-34
Same as the one for Parshat Zachor, last Shabbat
The Haftara consists of the command through the prophet Shmuel to King Shaul to destroy Amalek, and of Shaul's incomplete compliance with his orders.
The Maftir tells us what we must do. The Haftara shows us what happens when it isn't done properly. Megilat Esther shows us what happens when it is done right.
But the battle goes on... until the time of Mashiach. G-d too ìfightsî, so to speak. And we must do our part.