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Parashat Tzav / פרשת צַו
Read in the Diaspora on 27 March 2021 (14 Nisan 5781).
Parashat Tzav is the 25th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.
Torah Portion: Leviticus 6:1-8:36
This portion continues both the processes of the offerings for Elevation, Thanksgiving, Minchah, Sin and Guilt. This portion, however, focuses on the role of the Priests. It also continues the discussion of the priests’ ordination.
This portion is called “Tzav”. This means “command”. Typically, Hashem’s instructions to Moses and Aaron is “telling them…to say…”. This word is more emphatic and conveys the importance of having the priests be diligent in carrying out the instructions in preparing and executing each of the offerings in its respective situations.
This portion also goes into detail about the process of performing the Minchah offering. The priest is to take threefingers full of flour. This is where the priest cups his three middle fingers and scoops up flour for the meal offering.
This portion mentions the concept of piggul. This is where the offering would be disqualified by improper thought or intention. Here the offering is not performed during the appropriate time. The offering is also disqualified if the meat touches a contaminated person or object.
This portion also discusses the actual consecration of Aaron and his sons, continuing the instructions from earlier in the Torah in the portion of Exodus.
Shabbat HaGadol / שַׁבָּת הַגָּדוֹל
Shabbat HaGadol (Shabbat before Pesach) for Hebrew Year 5781 begins at sundown on Friday, 26 March 2021 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 27 March 2021.
Shabbat HaGadol ("Great Shabbat" שבת הגדול) is the Shabbat immediately before Passover. There is a special Haftarah reading on this Shabbat of the book of Malachi. Traditionally a lengthy and expansive sermon is given to the general community in the afternoon.
Pesach I / פֶּסַח יוֹם א׳
Torah Portion: Exodus 12:21-12:51; Numbers 28:16-28:25
For the first day of Passover, the Torah reading reiterates the preparation of the Israelites to leave Egypt. Moses tells them that they are to slaughter a lamb for the feast.
They are to take some of the blood of this Paschal offering and use hyssop to smear some on the top of the lintel of their homes. This will be a sign for the destroyer to pass over the houses of the Israelites who have smeared blood on the lintel.
The Israelites will continue to perform this offering to observe as a festival when they arrive in the promised land from generation to generation, forever, keeping it always in the land.
They are also to gird their loins, pack up their possessions and get ready to leave in the morning.
We also have the beginning of the four questions that children ask as part of the Seder in the Haggadah. When children ask: “What mean you by this service?”, we are to explain the sacrifice.
Hashem then carries out the final plague, the killing of the first born.
The Israelites then leave Egypt. They take their bread, that was baked quickly and did not have time to rise. They also asked their neighbors, the Egyptians, for silver and gold, as payment for years of free labor. The Egyptians gave them their jewels of precious metals willingly.
The Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years, although not all of that time was spent as slaves.
When they left, Hashem told Moses that this will be the law of the Paschal lamb, that all who are part of their families and circumcised may partake. And thus did Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt out of the house of bondage.
Pesach II / פֶּסַח יוֹם ב׳
Torah Portion: Leviticus 22:26-23:44; Numbers 28:16-28:25
A mother and its young are not to be slaughtered on the same day.
G-d’s name is holy and not to be desecrated.
The Festivals are discussed. It discusses them in order of the (secular) year. It talks about Pesach, counting the Omer leading up to Shavuot, Rosh Hashannah (and Yom Kippur), Succot and Shemini Atzeret.
The maftir of both days talks about the Pesach offering.