Weekly Torah Portion

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Parashat Tzav - פרשת צו

Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon 


Dear Friends,


Parashat Tzav provides a window onto one of the most intriguing sacrificial customs in the Temple – the practice of presenting both the Olah (Burnt) and the Chatat (Sin) offerings on the same part of the Altar, despite their having entirely opposite functions. The Chief Rabbi explains this curious pairing by suggesting that the Korbanot represent stages in an individual’s progress as they draw on past mistakes to ensure future successes. The full transcript appears below.


In this week’s parashah of Tzav, we are introduced to the Korban Olah, the burnt offering and the Korban Chatat, the sin offering. The Torah tells us Bimcom asher tischat ha’ola tishchat ha’chatat. These two offerings were to be brought on the identical place, the northernmost part of the altar.


And this seems to be quite remarkable, because surely the sin offering and the burnt offering were polar opposites? The Olah, as its name suggests, enabled a person to elevate himself or herself to reach great spiritual heights. The Chatat however was a sin offering, brought by those who had erred in their ways. We learn about the Chatat, this term, from the world of archery. Lehachtiat Hamatara means to miss the target. The person who brought a Chatat was somebody who had misplaced priorities, who didn’t just ‘get it’ and as a result had failings and performed many sins.


Shabbat Shalom!