“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

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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, …

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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 …

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

“Rising to the Occasion”

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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 …

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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 …

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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.” …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Tazria (Leviticus 12:1-13:59) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “If a woman has conceived seed and born a male child: then she shall be unclean for seven days; as in the days of her menstrual sickness shall she be unclean.” (Leviticus 12:2) One of the greatest miracles of life is that …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, placed fire on it, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire which He had not commanded them. And there came forth fire from before God, and it devoured them, …

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Rav Udi Abramowitz

“And the edict was given in Shushan the capital” Rabbi Dr. Udi Abramowitz, Rosh Midrasha of Midreshet Lindenbaum – Lod This week’s parsha, Tzav, picks up where the previous parsha left off, and lists the various types of sacrifices. This time, however, it focuses on the special role of the priests in the offering of …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1- 8:36) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And the Lord spoke to Moses saying: ‘Command Aaron and his sons, saying, this is the law of the burnt offering…’” (Leviticus 6:1–2) When first encountering the concept of animal sacrifices in the book of Leviticus, we explored in depth the …

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