Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Parshas Tzav / Shabbos HaGadol

The beginning of Parshas Tzav deals with the laws regarding a Korbon Olah/elevation offering. There are two seemingly contrasting opinions in Chazal as to when the proper time to bring such an offering is. These criteria are much vaguer than, say, the criteria for a Korban Chatas/sin offering. We know that when one is oveir on a sin unintentionally that if done intentionally would require Kares, one brings a Chatas. Anyway, the Gemara in Yoma (36a), tells us that an Olah is brought when one fails to do a positive commandment (wearing tefillin, shaking lulav), or when one is oveir on a negative commandment that requires a positive commandment to rectify that, and one doesn’t do the positive commandment (oveir the negative commandment of not having chametz in your house, which would require the positive commandment of removing that chametz from your house). However, the Medrash Rabbah suggests that an Olah is brought for Hirhur haLev, or when one has improper thoughts.

While these two themes appear to be totally different, R’ Yisroel of Modzitz in his sefer Divrei Yisroel has a beautiful idea as to how these ideas are part of one theme. He says that we had an incorrect assumption that bringing the Olah for Hirhum haLev meant when we were thinking improper thoughts. He says just the opposite; we bring a Korban Olah when we had PROPER thoughts to do something, but, for whatever reason, we just didn’t get around to doing it. With this understanding, the two ideas above really aren’t any different; rather, the proper machshava without the ma’aseh/action, leads to the bittul aseih (not putting on Tefillin, etc.). One can think they want to do such and such as much they want; but if they don’t do it, what good was the intention? He relates this idea to the Rashi on the word “Tzav” in our Parsha, which says that whenever the Torah uses the word “Tzav” it is referring to zrizus/eagerness. In this case, it is telling the Kohanim that they have to do the service of the Korbon Olah with the same eagerness as the other Karbanos even though they don’t get to partake of this type of Karbon’s meat. Anyway, the idea is clear: when we have an idea that we want to do something, we must step into action immediately, with zrizus.

We see this idea by Avraham Avinu, as the pasuk tells us that before he went out to take Yitzchak to be sacrificed he chopped wood and shlepped it with him. The Divrei Yisroel wonders why Avraham had to chop wood before he left; he could’ve found wood when he got to his destination. Avraham, however, knew that intentions could be fleeting. As soon as he got word that he was to offer his son as a sacrifice, he wanted to put the plan into action, so he chopped the wood.

It’s apropos that this idea falls out in the month of Nissan, known to some as the “month of action.” There is a famous debate in the Gemara about when exactly the world was created. One opinion is that the world was created in Tishrei, and the other is that the world was created in Nissan. Rabbeinu Tam answers that really both are true; in Tishrei G-d started thinking about creating the world, but it wasn’t actually created until Nissan. Starting from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we have strived to find that spark to inspire us. However, for many, that inspiration has either left us or lay dormant with us. It is at this time of year, Chodesh Nissan, when it is time to make good on our proper intentions and act on them.

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