The Power of Tzav by Yehoshua Zirman


Parashat Shemini describes how Aaron attended to the various components of each and every Korban: specifically, the blood, fats, and flesh. The Pasuk relates, “VaYitbol Etzba’o BaDam VaYitein Al Karnot HaMizbei’ach VeEt HaDam Yatzak El Yesod HaMizbei’ach. VeEt HaCheilev VeEt HaKelayot…Hiktir HaMizbeicha KaAsher Tzivah Hashem Et Moshe.  VeEt HaBasar VeEt HaOr Saraf BaEish MiChutz LaMachaneh.” “And he dipped his finger in the blood and put it in the corners of the Mizbei’ach, and he poured the remaining blood on the base of the Mizbei’ach. And the fats and the kidneys…he burned on the Mizbei’ach, as Hashem had commanded Moshe. And the flesh and the hide he burnt in fire outside the camp” (VaYikra 9:9-11).

It is very interesting that the phrase “KaAsher Tzivah Hashem Et Moshe” is inserted after the description of the first two elements of the Korban and before the third. Why is this phrase inserted in the middle and not after all three elements of the Korban?

The Gemara (Kidushin 29a) teaches us that the word “Tzav,” to command, is used only in connection to a commandment that is applicable for all times, and never for a one-time instruction. Applying this principle to this week’s Parashah, now inserting that phrase after the first two elements is understood. The application of the blood of a Korban Chatat onto the corners of the altar , as well as the spilling of the remaining blood on the base of the altar, applies to all sin-offerings brought under any circumstance. The same applies to the burning of the fats on the altar. However, the flesh of a sin offering is usually consumed by the Kohanim, while in this special case the flesh was burnt outside the camp. Rashi notes (ad loc. s.v. “VeEt HaBasar VeEt HaOr”) that we do not find an exterior  sin offering (“Chatat Chitzonah”) being burnt outside the camp except for this one and the Chatat of the inauguration ceremony, and the only reason it was done this way in both instances was because of a direct order from Hashem. Therefore the words “as Hashem had commanded Moshe” can be applied only to the first two aspects of the sin offering, which involved standard practices, but it can’t be applied to the third step, which was unusual, and only a two-time departure from the normal procedure.

Using this principle, we can explain a difficult comment made by Rashi as well. Rashi, explaining Moshe’s words in pasuk 6, states “this is the thing that Hashem has commanded you to do and the glory of Hashem will become revealed to you.”

Rashi presents a story that on every day of the seven day inauguration period, Moshe erected and dismantled the mishkan every day. However, the Shechinah of Hashem did not descend upon the mishkan during this period.   Thereupon we complained to Moshe  that the goal of the mishkan was for  the Shechinah to descend to indicate that Hashem had forgiven them for the cheit haeigel. Moshe responded “this is the thing that Hashem has commanded you to do and the glory of Hashem will become revealed to you.”  Moshe Rabbeinu explained that Aharon is more worthy and esteemed than he, for Aharon’s sacrifices that the Shekinah will dwell in the mishkan.

One might ask where did Rashi notice any hint or allusion to this story in the pasuk? There is no mention of Aharon in the pasuk!

Based on the principle discussed above, however, we can suggest an explanation. The Pasuk speaks of “HaDavar Asher Tzivah Hashem Ta’asu” “the thing that Hashem has commanded you to do” (9:6). As we have seen, the word Tzav is used in connection with a commandment that is permanent. As Rashi mentions in his comment, until the end of the seven day inauguration period, Moshe served as the provisional Kohen Gadol, performing the sacrificial service throughout this time. This could not be referred to as a Tzivui, because it was just a temporary position. Aharon’s appointment to priesthood, however, was an everlasting position, and his Avodah deserved the description of a Tzivui. Based on the change of language, Rashi discerns that there was a transfer of power at this time.

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