WWOT: Weekly Words of Torah – Parashat Tzav

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

This week’s Torah Reading, Parashat Tzav, is called such, because the reading begins, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Command (tzav) Aaron and his sons thus: This is the ritual of the burnt offering…” (Leviticus 6:1-2) The Torah reading then continues to outline several sacrifices and offerings, which were to be brought for the service of God. Many people have difficulties relating to the Torah readings in the Book of Leviticus, Sefer Vayikra, also known as Torat Kohanim, the manual for the Priests, because the readings discuss sacrifices: which we no longer have, since we do not have altars, or the Beit HaMikdash, the holy Temple in Jerusalem. Additionally, vegetarians may find difficulties with these Torah readings.

There were a number of different types of sacrifices and offerings, such as guilt, sin, thanksgiving, burnt, first fruit, peace, and voluntary offerings. The word for sacrifice in Hebrew is Korban, from the root letters koof reish bet, which mean “to draw close.” Let us reframe the idea of sacrifices and think, in what ways are we drawn closer to God? In modern times, we have prayer to replace the times that these offerings were given to God. Furthermore, in modern times, let us consider giving a donation to a worthy cause, such as Torah Fund, to mark these occasions, and to help our five Seminaries in their mission to bring people closer to God, Torah, and Israel.

Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.