Shabbat is more than a day of refraining from worldly activity.

When experienced to its spiritual fullest, its holiness enlightens all other days of the week.

We invite you to enhance your Shabbat with these words of Torah.


Kohen fixing the fire by the golden alter painting

Making Connections: The Message of Mitzvos

Making Connections: The Message of Mitzvos

Tauger, Rabbi Eliyahu
March 28, 2024

Mitzvos are a command from G-d and they establish a bond between the material and the spiritual, between man and G-d.

The parasha is called Tzav which means a command. It is our connection to Hashem.

To Leap a Chasm

From the earliest ages, men have been aware of a reality beyond the material, a reality which transcends man’s senses and intellect. And yet, that very awareness is confounding, for this spiritual reality is on a higher plane than we can comprehend. Some kinds of religious practice attempt to resolve this difficulty by attempting to reach beyond our limited world. There are, however, two fundamental difficulties with these approaches:

a) Since spiritual reality is by definition above our conception, how is it possible for man to relate to it?

b) Moreover, otherworldliness runs contrary to G-d’s intent. G-d brought our world into being for a reason, and a fixation on going beyond that purpose implies a rejection of it.

Invitation From Above

Judaism offers a different alternative. A bond can indeed be established between the material and the spiritual, but the initiative must be G-d’s. G-d has “reached down” into our world to give us a means whereby we can relate to Him and, by so doing, elevate our environment. This is the purpose of the mitzvos…The very word mitzvah hints at this relationship, for it shares a root with the word tzavsa, which means “bond.”

Three Approaches

Man has the choice to obey or disobey, but by giving him a command, G-d has already entered his world. If man chooses to fulfill the command, he affirms the connection, and if he refuses, he denies it… Man’s option lies in the extent of his willingness to recognize and develop that bond.

…The [parsha] name Tzav means “command,” and is taken from the opening verse: “And G-d spoke to Moshe: ‘Command Aharon….’ ” Throughout the Torah, three terms are used to introduce a commandment: emor “tell,” dabber “speak to,” and tzav “command.” 

Strength in the Center

Emor, translated as “tell,” is associated with gentle speech, while dabber, translated as “speak to,” is associated with harsh tones… Kindness implies a willingness to give without consideration of whether the recipient is worthy. Judgment, by contrast, involves a scrutiny of the recipient to evaluate his worthiness. Mercy takes the nature of the recipient into consideration, yet may grant him assistance although he is not worthy…

Service for His Sake

The above concepts are reflected in the subject of this week’s Torah reading: the sacrifices offered in the Sanctuary, and later in the Beis HaMikdash…The sacrifices… are not for man’s sake at all, not even to train him in obedience. They are for G-d’s sake. Thus the Torah refers to them as Lachmi, “My sustenance,” implying that G-d needs this spiritual service, as it were.

Why does G-d “need” sacrifices? Only to provide man with a means of connecting to Him in a complete way. When a person brings a sacrifice, the emphasis is not on his commitment to G-d’s will, but that “My will was done.”…

The complete performance of all the mitzvos, and particularly the sacrifices, will take place only in the Era of the Redemption. As we say in our prayers: “Bring us with joy to Zion Your city, and with everlasting joy to Jerusalem Your sanctuary. There we will offer to You our obligatory sacrifices… in accordance with the command of Your will.”


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