“Parsha and Purpose” – Tzav 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Purim and the Parsha: Making a Difference”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. 

Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1 -8:36

“Purim and the Parsha: Making a Difference

We’re living in very complicated, perplexing, difficult times, where so many people – Jews and non-Jews – are being terrorized and being hurt simply because of the location they live in.

I’m so proud of my son and his friends for going to Ben Gurion Airport and welcoming in hundreds of refugees on a regular basis, to let them know that this is their home and they are welcome to be part of our “Medinat Yisrael”, the State of Israel, both Jews and non-Jews alike.

On a personal level, as someone who is now seeing children coming, not because they’re orphaned, but because their parents have given them up temporarily, in order to make sure they are saved, I’m reminded of the experiences that my father went through as a hidden child during the Holocaust – I’m not comparing the two experiences, because they’re incomparable – but this one is, indeed, still a tragic experience.

And I asked myself, “What am I to learn from the reading of the Megillah and from the parsha, Tzav? What messages does it share with me that I need to internalize into my essence, and the way I engage?”

Megillat Esther reminds us of the fact that God is not found in the Megillah, because the change that happens in the destiny of the Jewish people is because of the initiative of people like Mordechai and Esther.

The heroic activities of Esther and galvanizing energies of Mordecai transform the moment.

And while God is there somewhere, His name is not found in the Megillah – although it is hinted to – because ultimately what helps us bring the Mashiach is our energies; it’s our efforts.

It’s why the Rambam tells us [Mishneh Torah, Scroll of Esther and Hanukkah 2:18] that in the time of Mashiach, the books of the Bible that will be of consequence are the Five Books of Moses and Megillat Esther – not the rest of the Prophets and Writings.

Megillat Esther speaks to the fact that we can change the destiny of the world through our activities, through our essence, not through the miraculous activities that are discussed in the other books, but rather the human initiative that is discussed in the Megillah.

Parshat Tzav speaks about the fact that “אש תמיד תוקד על המזבח”; the need for there to be consistency: a fire must be lit on the altar at all times. [Leviticus 6:6]

Constant consistency. That’s also a message.

And I take away from Parshat Tzav and from the Megillah the responsibility that I have – indeed, I think that all of us have – to make a consistent and constant difference.

“אש תמיד”

We have to constantly understand that our responsibility as Jews, as human beings, is to be God’s partner and to right the wrongs in the world.

And our responsibility as we celebrate the experiences of Megillat Esther is to realize that human initiative can make the difference.

That’s why I’m so proud of institutions such as Hatzala and Chabad, which are doing amazing work. And indeed our own rabbis from the Straus-Amiel / Beren Amiel Institute of Ohr Torah Stone, who find themselves throughout Europe working on behalf of refugees; and the fact that so many of my colleagues have traveled to Poland during Purim to make a difference and to be involved in the humanitarian effort.

“אש תמיד תוקד על המזבח”

We can make a consistent difference, and we recognize from the story of the Megillah that it’s up to us to change the destiny of the world.

Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach!

Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – It has often been said that if an individual were to be incarcerated for his evil thoughts, no one would be living outside of a penitentiary.  Jewish law strongly corroborates this piece of conventional wisdom: “Thoughts or emotions (dvarim shebalev) are not of …

Read more

“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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. 

Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36)

“Making the World and Ourselves Whole Again: Freedom’s Opportunity”

 With Pesach starting right after Shabbat, I want to highlight two interconnected moments at the Seder that provide an extraordinary insight into ourselves and our responsibility to the world.
The first moment occurs early in the Seder, when we perform the ritual known as Yachatz: we take the middle matzah and break it into two, leaving the smaller piece with the other two, whole matzot.
What do we do with the larger piece of the broken middle matzah? Not surprisingly, there are several customs; some people give it to a child at the Seder to hold or to hide; while others have the custom that a child “steals” it and holds it “hostage” in exchange for the “ransom” known as the Afikoman present. 
Either way, the larger piece involves the participation of a child – if one is present at the Seder.

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, …

Read more

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 …

Read more

“Parsha and Purpose” – Parshat Tzav 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Rising to the Occasion”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. 

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.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbanit Sally Mayer

Parshat Tzav: Gratitude from Time Immemorial Rabbanit Sally Mayer is the Rosh Midrasha of Midreshet Lindenbaum‘s Maria and Joel Finkle Overseas Program Why does the korban toda – the thanksgiving offering – involve so much bread, which is eaten very hastily; and how does birkat hagomel – the thanksgiving prayer – substitute for it after the Beit …

Read more

Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin  Efrat, Israel – “And [Moses] brought near the second ram, the consecration-inauguration ram, and Aaron and his sons leaned their hands upon the head of the ram. And [Moses] slaughtered it” (Lev. 8:22-23) The second part of our portion of Tzav deals with the seven-day induction …

Read more

Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – The Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron saying,“When you come into the Land of Canaan which I give to you as an inheritance and I shall give you the plague of leprosy in the houses of the land of your inheritance.” …

Read more