Posted on March 23, 2011
by David B. Helfand
This week we read from two different sedrot. We read the weekly parasha of Parashat Tzav, the second parasha from the book of Vayikra. We also read the special maftir reading for Shabbat HaGadol, the special parasha before Pesach. Both Parashat Tzav and Shabbat HaGadol have very important messages for us as readers.
Parashat Tzav addresses the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, about the sacrificial work that they do. The ashes of the Korban Olah – the burnt offering on the altar throughout the night – are to be removed from the area by the Kohen after he takes off his special linen clothing. The Olah offering is brought by someone who forgot to perform a positive commandment of the Torah. The Kohen retains the skin. The fire on the altar must be constantly blazing. The Korban Minchah is a meal offering that is made from flour, oil and spices. A handful of it is burned on the altar, and a Kohen eats the remainder before it becomes leaven. The parasha describes the special korbanot offered by the Kohen Gadol each day and by Aharon’s sons and future descendants on the day of their inauguration.
The Chatat, the korban brought after an accidental transgression, is described, as are the laws for the slaughtering and sprinkling the blood of the Asham, the “guilt-korban” for certain transgressions. The details for the Shlamim, various types of peace korbanot, are described, including the prohibition against leaving the remains of the Todah, the thanksgiving korban, uneaten until the morning. All sacrifices must be burned after they may no longer be eaten. No sacrifice may be eaten if it was slaughtered with the intention of eating it too late.
Once they have become tame (ritually impure) korbanot may not be eaten and they should be burned. One may not eat a korban when he is ritually impure. Blood and Chelev, forbidden fats of animals, are prohibited to eat. Aharon and his sons are granted the breast and shank of every Korban Shlamim. The inauguration ceremony for Aharon, his sons, the mishkan and all of its vessels is detailed.
This week we also celebrate Shabbat HaGadol, which literally means the Great Shabbat. Shabbat HaGadol is always the Shabbat that immediately precedes Pesach. The Mishnah Beruah, a work of Halacha complied by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan/Chofetz Chaim in the late 1800s, states “the Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat HaGadol because of the miracles that happened.” The miracles that they refer to are both the Korban Pesach and Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Pesach offering and the Exodus from Egypt. The statement goes on and explains that you should prepare your self for Pesach and for the sedarim by saying excerpts from the Haggadah.
Another reason for the name of Shabbat HaGadol because during this week’s haftarah, that comes from Mishlei/Proverbs, that Hashem reveals that he will one day send the prophet Eliyahu to the Jewish people in preparation for the Mashiach and redemption. Every year on Passover during the Seder, we as Jews open our doors in hope of Eliyahu’s return and the fulfillment of the prophecy. The term “Great” or “HaGadol” is because of the importance of Pesach among the Jewish people.
Chag Kasher Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.