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[Dvar Torah] Tzav

In this week’s Parasha, G-d describes the different laws of sacrifices to Moses and tells him to command Aaron and his sons to perform the different types of offerings: burnt offering, homage offering, offering of anointment, the guilt offering, the sin offering, and many more.

The Korban Todah, a thanksgiving offering, shows gratitude to G-d. According to Rashi, four types of people need to bring the thanksgiving offering: “One who returns from travel at sea; one who returns from a journey in the wilderness; one who is released from prison; and one who recovers from an illness.” Those performing this offering all escaped from bad or dangerous situations. 

However, some people may ask: why is it mandatory to say thank you?  If we look at the details of the special rules in Korban Todah, we can understand part of the reason. We are ordered to eat the offering on the same day we brought it. It's a lot of food for one person or even for a small family. So we must invite friends and families to celebrate together: in this way we share the offerings in communion and in joy.

The Seforno words relate to this idea. He explains: “the reason for all of this is so that he can tell others about the kindness Hashem performed for him which led him to bring the offering in the first place.” The main purpose of the Toda sacrifice therefore, is not only to teach us to appreciate what we have, but also to share this appreciation with others.

Next week, we are going to celebrate Pesach. G-d commands Israelites to do the Korban Pesach on the same night they go out of Egypt. He commands them to eat from the offering with the shoes on their feet so they will be ready for the journey-  to be prepared for the rescue about to happen. They put the blood of the Korban on their door so G-d will pass over - Pesach - and will save them from the 10th plague. This day will be remembered and celebrated throughout the generations.

Today, we have no Temple and sacrifices so we symbolize them by doing the Seder (meaning order in Hebrew). The sages established this practice to help us to continue telling the story. The bone on the Seder plate and Afikoman remind us how we used to celebrate with real sacrifices. However, the main point of celebrating Pesach is to give thanks to G-d. This is why we celebrate in big families and invite a lot of people, similar to Korban Todah - to publicize and show gratitude for the deliverance.

At the end of the Seder, we have the fifth cup - the cup of Eliyah. Even though we appreciate what we had and drink the four cups, named four cups of thanksgiving, we keep one more cup. The fifth cup represents the future and reminds us that we always need to think and pray for our future, and to understand that it is our responsibility to take care of the future and carry on the story and the traditions. 

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!

Maya, Grade 9