Parashat Tzav

Friday, March 26, 2021/13 Nisan, 5781
Parashat Tzav Leviticus 6:1–8:36

Dear Friends,

As we begin to prepare for this very full weekend of celebration and Passover festivities, we enter in with the words and teachings of Parashat Tzav, this Shabbat. I always believe that there are no coincidences, so I took a moment to consider what it is about this Torah portion that guides us into our celebration of our redemption from Egypt and path to freedom. So, as usual, I started at the text and then took some time to consider how it speaks to me.

The word “Tzav” means “command,” and at the beginning of this reading, we are told about the 5 sacrifices that we are commanded to make and how the High Priest is ordered to receive it, for different purposes. Seems like a strange entry point for our Pesah celebration, until we stop to consider what our redemption and freedom truly mean. Throughout my life, I remember hearing the phrase, “Freedom isn’t Free!” I think that’s where we begin to understand this connection. When we were freed from Egypt, God says that we were freed to be God’s people, meaning that we have an obligation the the Holy One, for our freedom.

Fast forward to this week’s Torah portion, and we are now “commanded” to “sacrifice.” Indeed, freedom requires sacrifice, sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically. As we enter into our 2nd COVID Passover Celebration, we start to realize what this means to us (or at least in my interpretation). With our freedom from this pandemic on the horizon, we must realize that it will still require sacrifice. We will still need to embrace certain limitations, to protect others and ourselves, as we work to eradicate this virus. We will be able to return to many and hopefully all of our “normal” activities in the coming year, but we will need to embrace many new practices in our new reality. Yes, it won’t be the way it used to be, but we must make these sacrifices so that all of us can feel our new freedom. We have a responsibility for each other and even for those we don’t know. We will know our freedom, but it has a price, and we are commanded to make those sacrifices, as small or big as they may end up being.

May this be our last Passover that we celebrate virtually, but may we also know that we have responsibilities in our partnership with the Divine, to make sure that happens. May we hear God’s “Tzav,” and may we know that joys of our covenantal relationship with the Holy One. In the end, I wish all of us a Pesah where we celebrate our freedoms and remember the sacrifices they require.

Shabbat Shalom,
Cantor Ilan Davidson