Parsha Tzav starts with G-d telling Moses to “command” Aaron and his sons in connection with maintaining the burnt offering. The portion is a continuance of Vayikra and further describes the offerings made in the Tabernacle. Specifically, it describes the laws of the burnt offering, meal offering, guilt offering and peace offering and also details the installation of Aaron and his sons into service as priests. The word “command” is specifically used by G-d in Tzav, whereas in other portions He uses “say” or “speak”. To command someone is a definitive request – there is no choice in the matter. The root word of Tzav is Tzavatah – meaning to connect. When we observe a command, or take an action without thinking or allowing our ego or personal agenda to potentially limit our actions, we are able to rise above the limitations of our senses and “connect” spiritually to a higher realm. When we connect to the energy of certainty, we move forward and break free from doubts or other things in life that enslave us.
Whenever there is a small or large letter in the Torah, we know there is mystical significance. This week in Tzav, there is a small letter Mem in the word “mokdah”, meaning flame. Mem has the numerical value of 40, alluding to the Torah, which was given to Moses after 40 days. It also means water from the word Mayim which also represents Torah and 40 is the age when one obtains the deepest knowledge to understand Torah. Kabbalists suggest that Torah-study should be kept within the heart of the student and treated humbly (small, like the small letter Mem) and not as an outward demonstration of yearning. Similarly, it is explained that a flame always seeks to rise and can represent pride and arrogance. The small Mem reminds us to maintain humility and when we understand how small we are, we can achieve greatness. The Talmud states, “[A]nyone who chases after greatness, greatness flees from him”.
According to today’s accepted method of counting, we reach the middle of the Torah (in verses) in this week’s portion of Tzav. Whenever we reach the middle of something, we can connect to the energy of the Balance – the central column in Kabbalah, between Sharing (right column) and Receiving (left column). By connecting to this midpoint during the reading this week, we are able to more easily achieve and maintain balance in our lives.
The Shabbat preceding Passover is called Shabbat HaGadol. It is referred to as the Big Shabbat and we read a special Haftorah portion from the Book of Malachi. It is special for several reasons - the main reason being that it contains the secret of redemption. The Torah describes how G-d required each household to take a lamb and tie it to their bedposts on the 10th of Nissan - in advance of making the Passover offering. This was the first mitzvah completed by the Jewish nation and demonstrated certainty in G-d's word - creating a significant revelation of Light. Lambs were considered Egyptian idols at the time so the act of trusting in G-d and fulfilling a commandment, which went against the accepted practices of the day, shows amazing certainty. On Shabbat HaGadol we can connect to the event that happened on the 10th of Nissan, an initial step taken by the Israelites towards the killing of an idol. The elimination of idol-worshiping in our lives today, including spiritual slavery to money, bad relationships, health problems, our ego or a dead-end job allows us to obtain freedom and become our highest selves. This energy of redemption, going from bondage to freedom, is available on Shabbat HaGadol and carried throughout the entire week of Passover.