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Parshat Tzav: The Uniqueness of Parshat Tzav

By: SFW Students & Alumna

Special thanks to those who contributed to this week’s dvar torah, including: Chava Rubin, Tziporah Leah Shapiro, Lauren Sherman, and Chani Kupinsky.

This week’s dvar torah is dedicated in loving memory of Aharon Simcha ben Esther.

This week’s parsha seems a repetition of Parshat Vayikra. It repeats the korbanot and their halachot. However, the order of the korbanot is different in Parshat Tzav and Parshat Vayikra. In Parshat Vayikra the order reads as follows: olah, mincha, shlamim, chatat, asham. In Parshat Tzav the placement of the korban shlamim moves from third to last so that the order now reads as follows: olah, mincha, chatat, asham, and shlamim.

Why re-list the korbanot and why change the order?

Ramban suggests that the apparent redundancy and change in the order hints at the subject being addressed in the two sections. Parshat Vayikra addresses Bnei Yisrael, the people, while Parshat Tzav is directed toward the kohanim. This is seen from the opening pesukim of each parsha. Parshat Vayikra opens with Moshe addressing the People:

"Speak to Bnei Yisrael and tell them, if an individual among you wishes to offer a korban to God, then..." (Vayikra 1:2)

Parshat Tzav, however, opens with an address to the kohanim:

"Command Aharon and his sons saying, this is the procedure for bringing the olah..." (Vayikra 6:2)

The order in the two parshiyot expresses this very concept. In Parshat Vayikra the order is first korban nedavot, or voluntary korbanot (olah, mincha, and shlamim), followed by korbanot chovot, or korbanot one is obligated to bring (chatat and asham). This is essential information for the ba’al hakorban in order for him to know when to bring various korbanot. The list in Parshat Tzav is first kodshei kodashim (olah, mincha, chatat, and asham) followed by kodshei kalim (shlamim). This is essential information to the kohen and is therefore written as such in Parshat Tzav and not in Parshat Vayikra.

Rav Leibtag adds that because Parshat Tzav is directed specifically at the kohanim, instructing them how to bring the korbanot it includes the halachot of what may and may not be eaten of the korbanot. Parshat Vayikra, however, is addressed to the nation, as everyone must know which specific korban he may or must bring in any given situation, and therefore does not mention these halachot. Rav Leibtag explains that the korbanot in Parshat Tzav are listed in order of kedusha. The “most kadosh” of the korbanot, or kodshei kodashim, is the olah as it is consumed solely by the aish hatamid and goes only to Hashem. The “second holiest” is the mincha. There are two types of minchot – that which the kohen brings, which is totally consumed by the fire, and that which a non-kohen brings, which the kohen partakes of. The Torah thus groups the two together when listing the korbanot in Parshat Tzav. The “next holiest” korbanot are the chatat and the asham, for the kohen is permitted the meat of these korbanot. The chatat is listed before the asham because a chatat is atonement for unintentional or accidental sins, while an asham is the consequence for an intended sin. The “least holy” of the korbanot, or kodshei kalim, is the shlamim, for everyone – Hashem through the aish hatamid, the kohen, and the ba’al hakorban – all partake of it. Thus, the order of the korbanot in Parshat tzav is in order of the kedusha of the korbanot – kodshei kodashim then kodshei kalim – and therefore the halachot of eating the korban are listed in Parshat Tzav and not in Parshat Vayikra.

Rav Grossman points out that the reason that the korbanot are written from the perspective of both the ba’al hakorban (the person offering the korban, i.e. Bnei Yisrael) and the kohen is to remind us that the kohen is merely the vessel through which Bnei Yisrael can achieve clossness to Hashem. Furthermore, the perspective of the ba’al hakorban is presented first to remind the People that they are the ones who are the key characters when offering a korban – not to mistake themselves for the kohen, a mere messenger on behalf of the People.

Rav Sabato writes that Parashat Tzav presents a fundamentally different perspective on korbanot than that of Parashat Vayikra. Parshat Vayikra offers the individual the opportunity to offer a sacrifice. Even the chatat and asham are to be brought only when the situation arises, but are not an established part of the avodat haMikdash. Hence, Parashat Vayikra presents sacrifices as an opportunity and privilege granted to Bnei Yisrael to achieve deveikut to Hashem through the korbanot. Parashat Tzav, however, opens with the aish hatamid on the mizbayach and the korban tamid, an obvious symbol that the Shechina resides in the Mikdash. In this way, the Torah teaches that the korbanot are more than just an opportunity offered to the People; it constitutes an essential part of the Mishkan, expressing the constant presence of the Shechina among the Jewish People.

Perhaps one can answer as the Malbim does regarding Sefer Yishayahu. He claims that the repetition is in order to stress that one nevuah is not more important than another. Maybe this answer can be applied to the korbanot. Each korban is just as important to Hashem as the next, regardless of the particular circumstances surrounding it. This is possibly why each korban has very specific and detailed halachot, different from that of its neighbors.


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Tzav