15 Adar II 5774 / March 14-15, 2014
In this week’s portion, Tzav, we find ourselves in the Book of Leviticus (often referred to as the “Priestly Code”) learning all about the steps Aaron and his sons (under Moses’s leadership) are required to take in order to formally induct them as the nation’s priests. We’re also given step-by-step instructions for how the priests are meant to prepare and offer up various sacrifices and burnt offerings (there’s something to be said about prayer being a really nice replacement for sacrifice given some of the gory details…!).
Here are the various offerings discussed:
The Burnt Offering
The Grain Offering
The Anointment Offering
The Purification Offering
The Reparation Offering
The Well-Being Offering
So many offerings, so little time!
Maybe it’s just due to the record-setting snow and accompanying vortexes of a chillingly polar nature of late, but I want to hone in on a particular verse that has to do specifically with the altar where The Burnt Offerings were made:
“A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to go out.” (Lev. 6:6)
The Israelites (and the Priests specifically) effectively were instructed to ensure that there was an eternal fire in camp – a spiritual pilot light, if you will. In this way, the Israelites were able to show their devotion and dedication to the Divine by attending to the altar at all hours.
Fire plays a significant role in our tradition -- from representing creation itself (thus why kindling on Shabbat, when theoretically we’re refraining from “creating,” is traditionally forbidden) to its role in myriad ceremonies (think: lighting Shabbat candles, lighting a Havdallah candle, lighting a Yahrzeit candle, burning chametz right before Passover, etc.).
This Shabbat, reflect on the following:
What role does fire play in my life?
To whom/what and how do I show devotion?
If I had an internal, metaphorical, spiritual fire, what is it (activities, foods, people, etc.) that would keep it burning?
One of those foods just might be Hamantashen! (Don’t forget, Purim is Saturday night / Sunday!)