Parshas Tzav – A G-dly pleasure

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

A continuation of discussion of the laws of animal sacrifices and meal offerings in the Holy Temple. For example: Although animal sacrifices must be offered upon the fiery altar by day, nevertheless in case of excess, parts of the sacrifices, referred to as left-over “fats and limbs,” may be completed the night after; this also ensures that they not be left whole by morning, which would not be desirable.


Opinions differ as to the time limit for burning these remaining parts of sacrifices during the night. Rashi maintains that they are able to be offered-up all night. Maimonides rules that this may be done only until midnight as a precaution for the “fats and limbs” not to be left for morning.

In theory:

Rashi, in his opinion stated above, seems to uphold the Rabbinic clause which states that the Rabbis cannot institute such a precaution in a case where Scripture clearly and explicitly allows the given process. Maimonides, on the other hand, maintains that this clause only applies where Scripture demands the given process; when, however, Scripture merely allows it, even if explicitly so, nevertheless, the Rabbis can add precaution.


Arriving at this point of analysis, that the night offerings are in essence only permissible but not essentially obligatory, what lesson can be learned from this in man’s spiritual service?


The fats of the animals represent human pleasure. This has to be offered up to G-d and be burnt on the altar. This is so, not only regarding pleasure in “neutral,” permissible matters, but even regarding Holy matters such as Torah study and Mitzvah observance; the pleasure therein must be selfless and only as a result of sensing the importance of G-d’s wishes.


These two states, (the Holy and the permissible), like day and night, also represent two states of mind:

a) The Tzaddik who feels G-dly energies at his every turn; his pleasures are sure to be G-dly.

b) The average person who still battles with undesirable pleasures and passions. Although battling darkness, his victories over his animalistic pleasures are the catalyst for purifying the world and, hence, for bringing Moshiach and Redemption to the world .

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 3, Tzav)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *