Friday, April 03, 2009

Parshat Tzav - פרשת צו

This week I looked I have two Divrei Torah from the Yalkut Lekach Tov; one for the weekly Parsha, and one for Shabbat HaGadol. Interestingly, for the first D'var Torah, four out of the first five midrashim in the sefer were on the opening two Psukim of our parsha! It seems that the lesson to be taught is a rather important one, something we shall clearly see as we progress.

"צו את אהרן ואת בניו לאמר זאת תורת העלה היא העלה על מוקדה על המזבח כל הלילה עד הבקר ואש המזבח תוקד בו - Command Aharon and his sons saying: This is the law of the elevation-offering: It is the elevation offering that stays on the flame, on the altar, all the night until the morning, and the fire of the altar should be kept aflame on it." (ויקרא ו:ב)

Rashi points out that the language here, when it says tersely "Command Aharon," implies that there should be a certain urgency and zeal to get on with the task at hand. He goes on to explain that though this particular mitzvah incurs a "Chesron Kis" a loss of money, (the offering was to be burned rather than eaten by the Kohanim) it should be performed with the same joy as a mitzvah that is enjoyable.

This seems rather sensible. But who is being commanded here? Aharon HaKohel HaGadol, not some mere Jo-Shmo! The person being told to regard this mitzva is one of the holiest people Am Yisrael ever had; surely he knew well the importance of serving Hashem with joy? What's happening here, and why does Rashi say that this is applicable not only then but "ולדורות - And for all the generations?"

The answer, continues the Lekach Tov, is to be found in Pirkei Avot where it says, "ואל תאמין בעצמך עד יום מותך - Do not believe in yourself till the day of your death." (ב:ה) The meaning of this teaching is that one should realise the root of everything in this world, and be careful not to accredit himself with anything, but rather make a point of acknowledging Hashem's role as the orchestrator of all that goes on in this world.

Beyond that, every Jew is human, and every single one of us is continually struggling with our Yetzer Hara. No matter how high we have risen, we all have the basic inclination to relax and say, "I deserve it!" There will always be a challenge, and it is imoportant to realise that one has never reached his final destination in this life - we can never stop and relax; that is something reserved for the next world. We only have a limited amount of time in this world, and for that reason alone, we should make every mitzvah count.

We must remember that the Gedolim of the Tanach were not demi-gods like other religions, but were flesh and blood like us. They had their only battles, and were made great by winning over their wills. They were not created great; they forged themselves into true servant of Hashem by battling their evil inclination. Aharon was a human being too, we must realise that in his generation (and as Rashi points out, in all generations,) the Gedolim just as much as the common people, must be careful to fulfill Hashem's word. Even one who has climbed the ladder to greatness must not believe in himself to the day of his death.


My second D'var Torah is based upon the Haftarah for Parshat HaGadol.

Traditionally there are two Shabbatot in the year when the congregation comes together and listens to a D'var Torah from the Rabbi; Shabbat Shuva between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and this week, the Shabbat before Pesach. The connection between Shabbat Shuva and the overall theme of Tishrei and the Aseret Y'mai HaTeshuvah is fairly obvious, but what is Shabbat HaGadol all about? The Haftarah would be a good place to look, and the Lekach Tov has a lovely D'var Torah on it.

Approaching the end, we read "ושבתם וראיתם בין צדיק לרשע בין עבד אלהים לאשר לא עבדו - Then you will return and see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him."

And what is this difference? The Haftarah continues, "כי הנה היום בא בער כתנור והיו כל זדים וכל עשה רשעה קש ולהט אתם היום הבא אמר יהוה צבאות אשר לא יעזב להם שרש וענף - For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven; all the wanton ones and all the evildoers will be stubble and the coming days will set them ablaze says Hashem, Master of Legions, it will leave them not root or branch." The Haftarah continues, "וזרחה לכם יראי שמי שמש צדקה ומרפא בכנפיה ויצאתם ופשתם כעגלי מרבק - But for you that rever My Name, a sun of righteousness will shine forth, with healing on its wings; and you shall go forth and prosper like fattened calves."

So we have what one could describe as a very stereotypically "Biblical" piece here; fire and brimstone and a nice "carrot and stick" reference going on with the Sun burning like an oven for the sinners and the you shalt "prosper like fattened calves" for the good 'uns. But what's actually happening underneath the surface? If there's one thing we know about Torah, it is that it is not a straightforward narrative, and that there are many different layers to what is written.

The explanation given by the Yalkut Lekach Tov is wonderful. The lesson being taught here is that there is no such thing as Heaven and Hell. Yes, you read that correctly! So what is the afterlife, then? The answer is surprising; they are one and the same!

How can this be? It isn't logical, it doesn't seem to make any sense! The Lekach Tov explains how the two are reconciled. The "sun" that is mentioned here is blinding light, and it is essentially nothing other than truth. Heaven, for those who have spent their earthy lives effectively, performing Mitzvot, learning Torah and perfecting their character traits, is seeing themselves in the light of truth and realising that their lives were well lived.

Hell, on the other hand, is when people who haven't utilised the gift of life to the maximum realise exactly what they have wasted. The truth is revealed to them, and all their lies and foolery are shown up for what they really are. The Lekach Tov makes a specfic example of newspapers and the like (Yay, I'm going into journalism this summer!) decrying the practises of men who spend their days "pursuing justice" and "doing good deeds." (I can only be reminded of the fools marching and protesting to "Stop the War.") These people live their lives making believe that they are doing something important and fighting for a vital cause, but once they are shown the truth, they suffer unbearable pain.

In this way, the sun 'heals' those who are deserving of Hashem's mercy, and 'burns' all those who are not, and now we may understand how Heaven and Hell can be one and the same. Now we can understand the connection between this miracle, this defiance of logic and natural order and the Pesach story, where Am Yisrael were redeemed under the 10 plagues whereby Hashem displayed His mighty power and inverted the natural order of things to proclaim His name as the true G-d.

I am deliberately holding back some information that will make the connection between this Haftarah and Pesach obvious; but I will write in my next note for Peasch on Wednesday.

Wishing you a שבת שלום!


  1. Eliyahoo William Dwek5:28 pm, March 28, 2010

    1. The Dweks from Aleppo, Syria, are the only family of the true Cohanim.

    We are the only true descendants of Aharon HaCohen, the Cohen HaGadol.

    And, we are the only true descendants of Pinhas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaCohen.

    It was the great act of Pinhas, who stopped the plague in Am Yisrael, when he struck the spear into Cozbi and Zimri. 24,000 died in a plague from the sins of idolatry and immorality with the Midianite women.

  2. Eliyahoo William Dwek5:29 pm, March 28, 2010

    2. Anyone who has taken on the surname, ‘Cohen’/’Kohen’ is clearly identifiable as a fraud, a liar and an imposter of the true Cohanim.

    This goes right back to his original ancestor who LIED, and said he was a Kohein when he was not.

    Anyone called, ‘Mr. Cohen’ or ‘Rabbi Cohen’ is definitely NOT a Cohen. Someone who calls himself, ‘Mr. Cohen’ or ‘Rabbi Kohain’ is effectively calling himself, ‘Mr. Torah!’

    3. The Kohanim are part of the Torah – but they are not called, ‘Mr. Torah.’

    It is preposterous for a man to call himself, ‘Mr. Torah!’

    If someone makes you a cup of coffee, or sells some bread to you, will you say, ‘Thank you Mr. CoffeeMaker!’ or, ‘Thank you Mr. Baker?!’

    4. The coffeemaker and the baker have a Family Name.

    Similarly with the true Cohanim.

    And that family name is, ‘DWEK.’