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Parashat Tzav

Parashat Tzav ~ Command

Submitted by Herschel Raysman on Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:25

Saturday 28 March 2015 Nissan 8 5775

Parashat Tzav.jpg

Parashat Tzav ~ Command Shelley Wood Gauld

Lev 6:1 ~ 8:36, Jer 7:22 ~ 8:3; 9:22 ~ 23, Heb 7:23 ~ 8:6

The dictionary definition of the word ‘Consecrate’ is to dedicate to a sacred purpose, to induct a person into a permanent

office with a sacred rite, or to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony.

Much of the imagery relating to sacrifices in Vayikra is repeated in Tzav, but here Moses’ words relating to consecration are directed specifically towards the priesthood: Aaron and his sons. Other pivotal instructions are also given: the fire of the altar was not to go out; the burnt (olah) offering was to be left to burn throughout the night so that the animal was completely consumed; the ashes had to be removed in a particular way; only certain portions of certain offerings could be consumed by the priests; and the eating of the fat (chelev) and blood (dam) of sacrificial animals was prohibited.

In order to grasp the magnitude of those circumstances, let us again picture the Mishkan: see that pillar of cloud by day and or fire by night above the God’s dwelling place. Envisage the Sh’khinah glory filling the Most Holy Place… How does a mere mortal conduct himself in the presence of the Almighty, or adequately and appropriately serve, when in such close proximity to HaShem? The priests must have been filled with awe… and with fear… HaShem therefore gave Moses specific instructions…

During the seven day consecration (yemei hamilu’im) of the priesthood, Moses assumed the role of high priest. Each day he gathered all of Israel (or the leaders of Israel) to the entrance of the Mishkan to act as witnesses. The daily ceremony began with the washing of the priests at the brazen laver (kiyor). Moses then robed them in their priestly garments, anointed them with oil (shemen), anointed the Mishkan and its contents, and finally anointed Aaron’s head ~ thus sanctifying him as ‘mashiach’ (anointed one).

Aaron and his sons then performed ‘semichah’ by ‘leaning’ their prayers of repentance onto the head of the bull of sin offering (chatat). Once slaughtered, Moses took the blood and consecrated the altar. He then burned all of the animal’s fat upon the altar; the rest was burnt outside the camp. Two rams (eilim) were then offered: the first was a peace offering (olah), and the second was the ‘ram of dedication’ (eil hamilu’im). Some blood from the latter was daubed on the right earlobe, thumb and big toe of each of the priests and some was mixed with oil and sprinkled on their garments in order to make their garments sacred for all future generations of priests. The rabbis say that the blood on the ear was a reminder to ‘listen’ to the commands of God; on the thumb, to ‘do’ His commands; and on the toe, to ‘move with alacrity’ in performing His commands. The same procedure was repeated on each of the seven days. Such was the preparation of the Aaronic priesthood for the performance of their duties.

The Mishkan as the earthly ‘Dwelling Place’ of God was an astounding precedence, but so too was the fact that HaShem created for Himself not only a priesthood, but “a kingdom of priests, a nation set apart” (Ex 19:6).

As HaShem called Israel to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, so too are believers in Yeshua called to be the same (1 Peter 2:9) ~ but in the latter instance, it is not the group that is called, it is individuals who are called one-at-a-time... As Israel had a Cohen Gadol (High Priest) and an Anointed One (Mashiach), so too do we: Yeshua Ben Yosef. As the diadem on Aaron’s turban served as a reminder to him, so should it be to us: ‘Holy to the Lord’. As the priests were trained to listen, to do and to move ~ by the blood daubed on earlobes, thumbs and toes ~ so are we to do the same, as prompted by God’s word and Ruach. As they were washed and made ritually clean in pure water before they could minister, so too are we called to be ‘immersed’ (baptised) into Yeshua before ministering to others. As they were instructed to ‘lean’ their sins upon the heads of their sacrifices, so too are we taught to ‘lean our sins’ on Messiah Yeshua who cleanses us. As the people of Israel were called to be ‘set apart’ (holy), so too are we…

How ancient and poignant are the precepts of HaShem as recorded in Parashat Tzav ~ and yet how profoundly familiar many of these are to followers of Mashiach...

“Take my life and let it be ~ consecrated Lord to Thee"

(Words: Frances Havergal, 1874. Music: Louis Hérold, 1839)

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