Friday, March 18, 2011

Parshat T'tzav - פרשת צו

"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)

In his commentary on the Torah, Rashi points out that the tersely worded: "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 the person being commanded here is no less than Aharon, the first Kohel HaGadol. The person being told to regard this mitzva is one of the holiest people Am Yisrael ever had; surely he knew all too well the importance of serving Hashem with real joy? There has to be an added level of meaning that we don't understand straight away.

If we pay close attention, we also note that Rashi says that this is applicable not only then but "ולדורות - And for all the generations". What does this mean exactly?

The answer can be found in the Lekach Tov, which cites Pirkei Avot, "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 Rabbis and great people spoken about in the Torah were not demi-gods like those found in 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 servants of Hashem by battling their evil inclination.

Aharon was a human being too, and we must realise that in his generation (and as Rashi points out, in all generations,) those who were pious had just as much responsibility as the common people to be careful to fulfill Hashem's word. Even one who has climbed the ladder to greatness must not believe that they have "achieved it all" - not even on one's dying day must on relent from the pursuit of self-betterment and mitzvot.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a Purim Sameach :)

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