“Parsha and Purpose” – Tzav 5781 / Shabbat HaGadol
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha
“Making the World and Ourselves Whole Again: Freedom’s Opportunity“
Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36)
“Making the World and Ourselves Whole Again: Freedom’s Opportunity”
The piece, once returned to the table, is eaten at the end of the meal in the section of the Seder known as “Tzafun”.
I have a few questions:
1) Why do we have a ceremony to break the middle matzah? There are plenty of broken pieces of matzah in every one of our matza packages, why don’t we just use them to begin with, rather than actively break a complete matzah in two?
2) What is the meaning of the childrens’ role in this particular ritual?
3) The eating of this broken piece of the matzah has its own “billing” in the Seder: the uncommon word “Tzafun”, which means “hidden”. What is the significance of this ritual and its name?
I would like to suggest that the breaking of the matzah into two pieces is a statement.
That even as we celebrate our freedom from slavery, we must be mindful of the fact that there are so many people with broken hearts, broken lives; things that are still broken in our world; and so much opportunity for us as free people to galvanize and transform the world around us.
And it is no coincidence that at this profound moment of acknowledgement of our reality, we purposely bring in the next generation, demonstrating to them that we can’t defeat the challenges that we face alone.
By engaging our children we signal to them that it must be a multi-generational effort.
We teach them that just as we inherited a broken world from the previous generation and are doing our best to fix it, they, too, are still inheriting a broken world unique to their generation, and it is incumbent upon them to make it better.
While this symbolism is happening on a macro level, on the micro level, it’s even deeper, because it’s not only the world that’s broken. Each and every one of us is fractured in one way or another.
Each of us has talents, significant pieces of ourselves, like the larger section of the broken matzah, which are hidden. Potential that we haven’t yet actualized.
The matzah that has been hidden or stolen from us represents the fact that there are pieces of our potential that haven’t even been revealed to us yet.
And this is why the peak of the matza-breaking ritual – which began earlier with Yachatz – is consumed at “Tzafun”, meaning “hidden”.
Because when we eat the Afikoman, we are not simply eating a broken piece of matzah, we are internalizing the reality of the hidden potential in the world around us… and the hidden potential in the world within us.
At this year’s Seder, let’s be conscious of the messages we’re conveying through our rituals, reminding ourselves that we are part of a multi-generational effort to make our world – and ourselves – whole.
The true responsibility that comes with the gift of freedom.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher V’Sameach
Shabbat Hagadol: The Truly Great Day Ilana Goldstein Saks studied at Midreshet Lindenbaum in 1987-88 and again as part of the Bruriah Scholars program from 1993-1996, and she taught there from 1993-2000. She has taught at a number of midrashot and schools in Israel. On the eve of yetziat Mitzraim, the exodus from Egypt, …
Parshat Tzav-Shabbat Hagadol (Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “Behold, I send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And he [Elijah] will turn [back to God] the hearts of the parents through their children and the hearts of the children through …
“Parsha and Purpose” – Parshat Tzav 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha
“Rising to the Occasion”
Rising to the Occasion: Parshat Tzav
We are recording on the balcony of our apartment in Jerusalem as all of us are staying inside keeping safe following the protocols of our health care professionals throughout the world.
And we’re just a 30 minute walk to the Kotel, the Western Wall, and the Temple area.
The Mikdash, the Temple, is discussed in our Torah portion. The inauguration of the Temple, the investiture of the Kohanim, and there is one sacrifice that is normally so esoteric, but really speaks to us during this corona epidemic.
The flour offering, Minchah, where the Torah tells us, both in this week’s Torah portion and last week’s, that the flour offering that is offered to God, lo ta’aseh chametz, it cannot have any form of leavening, ki kol se’or, anything that allows the flour to leaven, ve’chol dvash, or any additional sweetness that is added to it, lo tatiru, it then cannot be offered as a sacrifice to God. Leviticus 2:11
Except once a year we bring Shtei HaLehem, two loaves of bread baked with a leavening substance to the Mikdash on Shavuot, the holiday in which we celebrate the receiving of the Torah. Leviticus 23:17
The Torah is the blueprint for how we are to engage the world, the mandate for us to change the world.
This is a recognition of the fact that while we’re dependent on God, one day a year, on the holiday of Shavuot, we add a leavening process, to remind us that we can make a difference, that we can make the dough rise, that we can transform the world around us.
How much are we seeing that now? We’re seeing healthcare workers from all different countries that in the past never talked to each other, are working together to rise to the occasion, to transform the situation.
We’re seeing that individuals can make a difference, even in quarantine, even when we recognize our absolute dependence on God, even when we’re offering the flour offering without any leavening agents. We’re seeing that even in quarantine people are making a difference, whether by creating masks in our homes to donate, or by the virtual door-knocking that we’re involved in. We’re celebrating the messages behind the Shtei HaLehem of Shavuot.
We feel our dependence upon God. We show this recognition by not adding a leavening agent to the ordinary korban minchah, but once a year, on the holiday of Shavuot, we can make and celebrate the fact that humankind can make a difference in the world, that we truly add a leavening agent, to celebrate the fact that as Jews, as human beings, we can transform the world around us through the prism of Jewish values.
May it be a safe week for each and every one of us. Follow the orders and the mandates of our medical professionals, and please God, next year, l’Shana haBa’a be’Yerushalayim Ha’benuya. We will join together – you’re invited to join me – on this mirpeset, on this balcony, to celebrate together.
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