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Parshat Tzav

April 3, 2020

Parshat Tzav is almost entirely about the laws and customs of animal sacrifices offered in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. While these laws generally seem irrelevant nowadays as we have no Temple and cannot even fathom the concept of sacrifices, during the dark period that we are living though nowadays, there may be several lessons that can provide us with some comfort and support.

Sacrifices, as the word indicates, entailed giving of oneself either financially or emotionally. This is particularly poignant nowadays as we all must make sacrifices to our everyday lives (through social distancing, etc.), although some people are not taking them as seriously as they should be, their selfishness putting our elderly population at risk. Aside from the sheer callousness of their actions, this reflects a terrible lack of respect for elders. Judaism preaches a profound respect for our elders, as they are the links in the chain of our faith. It is they who not only teach us the stories of the past, but they are the source for all our traditions. 

Sacrifices also force us to confront the fact that we simply do not understand all that is occurring in the world round us. Undoubtedly, many who offered sacrifices in the Biblical period had no meaningful understanding of their sacrifices. Why were they being asked to slaughter an animal? Why were they asked to sprinkle the blood? Yet, as that was incumbent upon them, they did as they were expected. Similarly, nowadays, it is unclear to many why we are sacrificing so many aspects of our life due to the coronavirus outbreak, yet, we must have faith in God's plan.

Perhaps, the most comforting lesson from the parsha is the Israelites’ reaction to the many sacrifices that were asked of them during this period in history. Rather than letting the questions overwhelm or depress them, they continued to remain faithful and connected. So too, as we make our way through this pandemic, we must look for ways to find faith in God, our community, and the people working to solve this world crisis.

Shabbat Shalom,

Miami Shlichim, Moie Brenner and Carson Sleema

Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.

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