Rabbi Bernie Fox, OU
Speak to Bnai Yisrael saying: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male she, shall be impure for seven days as she is impure in (the case) of her separation occasioned by menstruation. (Sefer VaYikra 12:2)
1. An overview of the content of Parshat Tazria
Parshat Tazria deals with two topics. First, it discusses the laws regarding a woman who gives birth. The Torah explains that following the birth of a male child, a woman is impure for seven days. During this period, it is prohibited for her to be intimate with her husband. This is followed by a periods of thirty-three days during which intimacy is permitted. However, for the entire period of forty days she is disqualified from consuming foods that are sanctified. For example, she may not eat any portion of a sacrifice. She is also excluded from entry into the Mikdash – the Temple. At the end of the forty days, she brings a pair of sacrifices and is restored to a state of purity. The same basic law applies when a female child is born. However, the periods are doubled. She initially enters into a fourteen day period of impurity followed by a sixty-six day period during which intimacy is permitted, but she is restricted from eating consecrated foods and from entry into the Mikdash. She then brings a pair of sacrifices and is restored to complete purity.
The Intermediate Shabbat of Passover
(Exodus 33:12-34:26) After Israel worshipped the golden calf, Moses shattered the first set of tablets. Now Moses again ascends Mount Sinai in order to receive the new set of tablets. Moses pleads for God’s assurance of support. God reassures Moses and also reveals His 13 divine attributes. Moses then brings down a new set of tablets with the Ten Commandments.
The Haftarah is taken from the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:1-14). The prophet finds himself in a valley of dry bones and, under the vivifying effect of God’s spirit, the bones knit together and become covered with flesh. Ezekiel understands this vision to mean that the people of Israel, having been exiled to Babylon, will again be reborn as a nation.
Both the fact that Passover, recalling past deliverances, looks forward to future redemption and an old tradition that the resurrection of the dead will take place during Passover determined the choice of this passage as the Haftarah for the Intermediate Sabbath of Passover.
The Song of Songs
It is customary to read the biblical book Song of Songs on the Intermediate Sabbath of Passover. Rabbinic tradition interprets the book as a love song, where the “beloved” is taken to mean God and “the bride” to mean the congregation of Israel. This tradition made the Song of Songs especially appropriate to Passover, because it marked, as it were, the beginning of the courtship of Israel and God before, metaphorically speaking, they became finally wedded at Mount Sinai by Israel’s acceptance of the Torah.
Another reason given for the reading of this book on Passover is that it is a song of the spring. To the poet and the singer, spring is synonymous with hope and happiness. A people’s hope lies in its freedom and its attachment to the law of God. This, too, is the lesson of Passover, for which the people of Israel have fought since they left Egyptian servitude, and this is the eternal message it wishes to convey to the whole of the human race.
Shabbat HaGadol - Parashat Tzav
Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36; HAFTARAH Malachi 3:4 - 3:24
Rabbi Avi Weinstein is the Head of Jewish Studies at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Kansas City, for MyJewishLearning.com
Sometimes Not Only An Animal Was Sacrificed
Our spiritual leaders must always remember that the sanctity of human life should never supersede devotion to God.
In the beginning of Parashat Tzav, the first sacrifice introduced is the Korban Olah. We are taught that the fire that burns this sacrifice should not be extinguished, and that the limbs of this sacrifice should burn throughout the night. The kohen, the priest, lifts these ashes ceremoniously and then changes clothes. He then removes the ashes from the altar and carries them outside the encampment.
The question arises in the Talmud of how the kohen is chosen for this task. The Mishnah of Tractate Yom Hakippurim gives a painful but interesting history lesson.
BY RABBI STEVEN WEIL. The following article is reprinted with permission from the Orthodox Union for MyJewishLearning.com
The Role Of Sacrifices
Sacrifices allow us to reach out to God using our physical and emotional drives.
The theme of Sefer Vayikra (The Book of Leviticus) is korbanos, the animal sacrifices brought in the Tabernacle and, later, in the Temple.
The Rambam (Maimonides), in his Guide to the Perplexed, writes, “The purpose of sacrifices being incorporated into the Divine service of the Jewish people was to accommodate the transition of the people going from the extreme falsehood of idol worship to the extreme truth of worshipping one true God.
Passover is coming, check out our Passover Resource Kit.
Shabbat HaChodesh - Vayak’heil/P’kudei
Moshe relays the Almighty's commands to refrain from building the Mishkan (the Tabernacle or Portable Sanctuary) on the Shabbat, to contribute items needed to build the Mishkan, to construct the components of the Mishkan and the appurtenances of the Cohanim. The craftsmen are selected, the work begins. The craftsmen report that there are too many donations, and for the first and probably the only time in fundraising history, the Jewish people are told to refrain from bringing additional contributions!