Parashat Tzav / by: Rav Dror moshe Cassouto
In Parashat Tzav, we can see Moshe Rabbeinu teaching Aharon and the rest of the Cohanim (priests) the laws and deep significance behind the offering of sacrifices. A big question has been asked: What connection is there between a person and the sacrificing of an innocent animal? How can the death of an animal have the possibility of atoning for a person’s sins? In the laws of sacrifices, the person that brings a sacrifice needs to have intention at the time of slaughtering and to confess over his sins. And if there is no confession (vidooy), the sacrifice doesn’t atone.
Although it’s a beautiful effort, one mustn’t think just by offering an animal, one fulfilled their obligation. One can’t run away from the necessity to repent. One of the intentions that a person should have while sacrificing an animal is that I was supposed to lay down here under the knife in order to be slaughtered because of my sins. However, due to the mercifulness of HaShem, he found for me a solution to lengthen my life and opened for me the opportunity to confess and do teshuva (repentance).
It’s a known thing among mankind that the Jewish people are nezer ha’briah (the top of creation). We see that nature and animals can help a man achieve his purpose in life. In this process, the animals themselves are also completing their mission in this world.
There’s an argument between the organs of the body as to who is most important. The eyes didn’t get the first place and neither the mouth or ears. Rather, it was the heels (akaveem). Why is that? Because the heels are stabilizing the man in a way that without them, he couldn’t walk in a stable way. Furthermore, all the rest of the body rests on the heels. On the other hand, you can say that without a heart, brain, or lungs a person cannot survive either. We learn from this that every part of the body is important, even the part that is the “lowest”. Even though it seems that animals are of secondary importance in the order of creation, we see that without them, there is no continuation of existence.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us in Likutei Moharan that the main cause of suffering in a Jewish person’s life is due to his sins. And when the person learns how to do teshuva (which can atone for his sins), he removes that burden from his back and becomes calm and happy. But again we say, it all depends on the pure intentions of the heart.
When person eats without saying blessings (brachot) and doesn’t think about HaShem while eating, so not only does the food not atone for his sins but it brings him down to the level of the very animal or vegetable he’s eating! A person receives the nature of the things that he eats and that’s why we make a great effort not to eat non-kosher food. It’s also important to eat like you’re the “top of creation.” In doing so, you elevate all the sparks in the food which help you get closer to HaShem and achieve your purpose in life. But when the person falls to lusts and desires, he falls from his level because he attaches himself to just the physical ingredients of the food.
We’ll end with a Chassidish story: there was once a tzadik that ate only one spoonful from his bowl of soup. One day, he noticed that one of his students was starting to eat just like him. So the Rabbi called his student to the side and told him quietly: you don’t need to eat like me. When you eat, you need to finish all of the soup until the last drop. The student asked but why can’t I eat like you and eat only one spoon? He replied that when i eat one spoon, all of the holy sparks in the soup jump into my spoon and thus I only need one spoonful. But when you take spoonful, the sparks runaway and therefore, you need to eat all of the soup.
In conclusion, be happy in your level, be a good boy and finish your plate. Let’s try to say the blessings with understanding and the right intention and to connect ourselves to HaShem.
Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach