Irrelevant yet Important by Yehuda Koslowe


Parashat Tzav deals primarily with the nuances of the Mishkan and the objects and tasks which would be performed daily in it. The Parashah begins with Hashem’s commandment to Moshe to tell Aharon the many Halachot regarding the different Korbanot, the first of which is the Korban Olah. Hashem instructs Moshe Rabbeinu, “Tzav Et Aharon VeEt Banav Leimor Zot Torat HaOlah,” “Command Aharon and his sons saying ‘this is the law of the Olah offering’” (VaYikra 6:2). Rashi (ad. loc s.v Tzav Et Aharon) addresses the rare usage of the word Tzav, meaning command, instead of the more commonDabeir, meaning speak. He quotes the Gemara (Kiddushin 29a) and explains that the word Tzav implies an urgency in the commandment, and it teaches us that the commandment will be performed for future generations.

Rashi’s explanation that the word Tzav teaches us that the commandment applies to all times implies that the Korban Olah (and probably all Korbanot) will be performed after the third Beit HaMikdash is built. Rashi would be of the opinion that in theory, Korbanot should apply even nowadays, but we cannot give Korbanot due to our level of Tum’ah. However, Rambam seems to disagree with the implications of Rashi’s statement. He writes (Moreh Nevuchim 3:32) that Korbanot are not ideal, but rather, they were instituted because animal sacrifices were common during ancient times. Hashem understood that it would have been nearly impossible for Bnei Yisrael to completely abandon the worldwide practice of animal sacrifices, so he instituted all of the laws of Korbanot, so that Bnei Yisrael would turn a practice that was used for Avodah Zarah into a practice which would be used for Avodat Hashem. This comment of the Rambam implies that Korbanot are not obligatory, and in fact, they might not even be ideal. Therefore, we would assume that in our current society, in which animal sacrifices are rarely performed, Korbanot would not apply. In addition, after the building of the third Beit HaMikdash, assuming that animal sacrifices do not suddenly become mainstream, it seems that the Rambam would believe that animals would not be offered on the Mizbei’ach.

Perhaps, we could resolve this apparent conflict between Rashi and Rambam by reading the text of the Parashah very carefully. Moshe was told to command Aharon about the “Torat HaOlah,” the laws of the Olah offering” (6:2), and Rashi commented that this commandment applies to all future generations. Hashem did not command Aharon to give the Korban Olah, but rather, He commanded him about all of the different laws which pertained to the Korban Olah. Perhaps, even though we might not offer Korbanot after the building of the third Beit HaMikdash, the laws which pertain to them will still apply forever.

It might seem counterintuitive that the laws of Korbanot would apply after the building of the third Beit HaMikdash, even though Korbanot themselves would not apply. However, this can be compared to the laws of Ben Soreir UMoreh, the rebellious son. The Gemara in Sanhedrin begins the eighth Perek with the laws of a Ben Soreir UMoreh, yet the Gemara (Sanhedrin 71a) records that there never was and never will be a case of a Ben Sorer UMoreh. The Gemara asks why we must learn all of the nuanced Halachot regarding Ben Sorer UMoreh if they will never be applied. The Gemara answers, “Derosh VeKabeil Sechar,” “Learn them (the Halachot of Ben Soreir UMoreh) and receive reward.” This Gemara teaches us that even though we may sometimes learn Halachot which seem to give us no benefit, there is an intrinsic beauty and relevance in all Halachot, even if they do not apply to us.

Similarly, Rashi might be of the opinion that the laws of Korbanot apply for all generations, even though Korbanot may not be brought for all generations. Even if the Halachot appear to be irrelevant, it is not so. Every single aspect of the Torah should impact our lives, regardless whether or not they seem to directly affect us. We should take this lesson to heart and it will hopefully intensify our appreciation for the Torah.

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