September 24, 2023 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) - Tzav

The Torah is a document that can very terse on some matters and go into tremendous detail on others. One would think the priests didn’t need to be told to throw out the ashes from yesterday’s sacrifices, yet in Parshah Tzav that’s precisely what they are told: “He shall then take off his vestments and put on other vestments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a pure place.” (Lev. 6:4) Even here the rabbis derive all sorts of lessons. Why do the priests have to change clothes? So that they not in their priestly finery when they take out the ashes, dressing instead more like ordinary Israelites. This is to make sure the priests don’t lose their connection with the people. Why take the ashes to a “pure place?” Because once used for a holy purpose, these remnants should be disposed of respectfully, not as trash. It’s not a big leap from that to note that worn tefillin, Torah scrolls and prayerbooks are not simply tossed in the garbage but are disposed of respectfully, since they contain God’s name. And if we treat ashes and worn out books with respect, how much more so must we be decent to our fellow human beings?


Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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