The Torah portion, or parasha, this week is called Tzav and is found in Leviticus 6:1-8:36. Last week’s parasha gave a description of the different types of sacrifices and their uses. Parashat Tzav provides instructions on how the kohanim (priests) are to offer the various sacrifices. We also learn that the zevah sh’lamim, the offering of well-being, was to be brought for three reasons – for thanksgiving, in fulfillment of a vow, or as a freewill or voluntary offering. A person in a state of ritual impurity was not allowed to eat from any of the sacrifices. No one is permitted to eat chelev (the fat covering an animal’s internal organs) or blood. Portions of these offerings were to be set aside to be given to the priests. God instructs Moses about the ceremony of consecration of the priests. Aaron and his sons are washed, dressed in their ceremonial garments, and anointed. Moses offers sacrifices on their behalf. The ritual of ordination continues for seven days.
There are a couple of things we can learn from this passage. First, we learn that the rituals the priests perform are done in a way as to allow the person who brought the sacrifices to be accepted and respected (not judged), and that casual observers of another person’s sacrifice would not necessarily know why the other person was bringing a sacrifice. This would help others not to judge their fellow beings. Another thing we learn is that no matter how menial the priests’ tasks appeared to be, every act performed for God was considered holy. From this passage, we learn the importance of respecting others, not judging people’s past lives, and learning to forgive ourselves. We also learn that no matter what small tasks we do each day, they can be holy.