Offering Thanks in a Season of Freedom & Pandemic

April 2, 2020

 

Torah Talk on Tzav/HaGadol 5780

 

This week’s Torah portion is the second in the Book of Leviticus, Tzav, the section that establishes rules for the various sacrifices offered in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the Mishkan. These same sacrifices were later also offered in the Temple in Jerusalem for about a thousand years. 

 

There are many different types of sacrifices commanded in Tzav: burnt offerings, guilt offerings, sin offerings, and so on.  But one group of sacrificial offerings stands out: the offerings of peace, the zevach shlamim.  And among this higher category of offerings one in particular stands out highest: the zevach haTodah, the thanksgiving offering. 

 

The rabbis thought so highly of thanksgiving to God that they are quoted in the Talmud saying that “when the Messiah comes all sacrifices will have completed their mission, and all will be discontinued, with one exception: the thanksgiving offering.”  That sacrifice will last forever, even after the Messiah!  Why?  Because even in a perfect world we must remember to give thanks, to be grateful for what we have. 

 

This Shabbat is also Shabbat HaGadol, “The Great Sabbath” that precedes Passover.  The name is taken from its famous Haftarah, which proclaims the coming of the great and awesome day of God in which the prophet Elijah will come and “turn the hearts of children to their parents and the hearts of parents to their children.”

 

In a year in which all of us are experiencing challenges imposed upon us by the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic, we do well to remember the many things we still have to feel grateful for.  On the Shabbat of Tzav-HaGadol, may we come to value those eternal blessings: family, friends and the freedom to practice our faith at this special season of the year, even if we are doing it at home without the usual guests...    

 

May you be blessed with Shabbat Shalom this week—and with a Chag Samei’ach, a happy and healthy holiday of Pesach filled with thanksgiving.

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