So many of us have lived this. We are with our children and in playing, they begin to be agitated over toys or snack. We gently lean in and say that it is good to share what we have, to give something that we like to others as a way of friendship. Tzav, this week’s portion, continues the detailed descriptions of the sacrifices of the Temple cult. These long ago practices, now replaced by the formal schedule of prayers, seem remote and distant to our techno-self oriented society. Yet, there is an interesting spin that we can take from this section of Torah.
Some have written on this portion that the routine of sacrifices is a symbolic representation of personal growth. The routine of the ritual, like to the pattern of the prayer rituals, teach a person the value of routine. The idea of the sacrifice is extended to symbolize the necessity of sharing, of giving something of ones self to a greater good and in doing so, we learn values of inter-connectedness and community. As one contemporary scholar noted, “sacrifices provide an avenue for human growth”*. The theory is that in learning to give up (sacrifice/share) something that one has or holds dear, one can learn the concept or gratitude for what one has and also the satisfaction of giving to others. In Biblical terms, sacrfices brought about appeasement or allegience from God. In psychological terms, when we learn to give something from our portions, wen we learn to share, we achieve–we hope–support, caring and affection from a parent or society.
I ask you to consider this issue now, as we still reside within the borders of Covid. Many have sacrificed much in terms of relationships and social connection. Yet, many of our generation have continued to turn outward, to develop relationships and provide support to others in the community who need that connection and support. It may be electronic, financial or any combination, but the idea of giving of ones self to thers remains a “call” from the tradition. In that way we keep the spirit of Parasha Tzav alive , to keep the flame of faith alive perpetually.
Shabbat shalom and, Chag Sameach
Rabbi Richard F Address
- “The Biblical Path to Psychological Maturity” Vivian B. Skolnick
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.