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Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36)

“Aaron and his sons did everything that God commanded through Moses.” (Lev. 8:36)

Parashat Tzav adds more details to the instructions for performance of the sacrifices introduced in last week’s parasha (portion). It concludes with Aaron’s and his sons’ ordination as kohanim (priests). Tzav commands the kohanim, “You should not leave the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for seven days…,” (Lev. 8:33) and two verses later, commands again, “You should stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days.” (Lev. 8:35) These instructions trigger two questions with answers relevant to today’s situation.

The first question asks why the command is given twice. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994; last Lubavitcher Rebbe) says the two commands address two different groups of kohanim: those who are inside the mishkan being inaugurated and are prohibited to leave (Lev. 8:33) and those already inaugurated who are outside the mishkan who shouldn’t go too far away (Lev. 8:35).

The second question requires some background: Rashi (an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the pre-eminent 11th century Jewish commentator) says the mishkan, or Tabernacle, is set up each day and dismantled each night for the seven inaugural days (Rashi on Ex. 9:23). So, where do the kohanim go at night? Rashi says they stay where the entrance stood during the day. This fulfills their obligation to, “… guard your appointed duty to God.” (Lev. 8:35)

God invites the Jewish people to be mamlechet kohanim, a nation of kohanim (Ex. 19:6). So today, we, too, remain at the gates of our homes (stand-ins for the Temple), standing guard. Our appointed duty? To protect our family’s, community’s, and country’s health.

Zay Gezund/Be Healthy
Gut Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom

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