This is Exhausting

Categories: Parsha, Tzav

Art by Sefira Lightstone

Sometimes things feel a little monotonous. Like, weeks go by and nothing especially exciting is happening and we feel the inherent need to shake things up.
This week’s Parsha is named Tzav, literally “Command.” It discusses much of the regular sacrifices that the Kohanim—Aaron and his priestly dynasty—would be bringing in the Tabernacle and later the Temple. The word “Tzav” is a curious one, in that it replaces the more commonly used “speak” or “say” with “command.” Why the choice of words? Our sages tell us this word teaches us that these activities must be performed with zealousness. But why? Aaron has shown himself to be most dedicated and committed to the cause of the Kohanim; why the need to express it so? The answer is that this charge to the Kohanim is not just meant for Aaron himself and the “here and now,” but for his children and for all time. The lesson? Sure, right now Aaron is dedicated to the cause and will act in the most efficient manner, but what of his children? Will they carry it on or will the excitement wane? So G-d “commands” that they should continue these activities with the same enthusiasm with which it began.
So how can we apply this? Interestingly, I found a previous article I wrote that applied this same Torah portion to 2020 which, we may recall, was the early stages of the pandemic. At that time, the reference regarded keeping things interesting and exciting regardless of how melancholy or monotonous they became. Certainly easier said than done. Sadly now, in 2024, there are also things that may bog us down. This week, besides for the bridge tragedy in Maryland, we lost Senator Joe Lieberman, a man I knew to be perhaps a relic of a bygone era. A good man, a G-d fearing man, a decent man and someone known for making a “Kiddush HaShem,” sanctification of G-d’s name, in how he proudly practiced his Judaism in public and was respected by so many (arguably over half the country) for it. A teacher of mine, Rabbi Zalman Wilschansky, who taught at the Rabbinical College of America, also passed away on Wednesday. He was a man dedicated to education who cared deeply in raising the next generation of rabbis and Jewish leaders. May their memories be a blessing and may we continue to pass on those “commands,” the legacies they left and the teachings they taught so passionately—so that they live on through us. Good Shabbos!

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