Parasha Inspiration – Tzav

This week’s Torah portion, Tzav, continues with the instruction of the Kohayns on bringing the different types of offerings. The portion culminates in Leviticus chapter 8 with the Miluim, the installment of the Kohayns.

In Yayikra chapter 7:11 and following, one specific type of sacrifice is discussed, the “peace” offering, the Shlamim. The reason this type of offering is called the “peace” offering is because the root of the word, Shlamim, is the same root is the word shalom, peace. It is also the same root, however, as the word shaleim, which means full or complete.

When looking at the Shlamim, it is quite obvious that the sacrifice is not related to peace. In fact, it is difficult to understand why the sacrifice is called Shlamim at all, but there are some obvious differences between the Shlamim and any of the other sacrifices. First, the Shlamim are offered in a different place on the altar than the other sacrifices. The Shlamim are offered on the south side of the altar; the Olot are offered on the north side of the altar. Also, there are two different types of Olot. The Tamid offering is an Olah that is burned completely on the fire on the altar. The other Olot are consumed by the Kohayns. In both cases the fat of the kidneys is removed and roasted separately on the altar for a pleasing aroma to Hashem. So in the two types of Olot, Hashem receives his portion, or Hashem and the Kohayns both receive their portion. The Shlamim are different. For the Shlamim the fat of the kidney is roasted for Hashem, the Kohayns receive their portion, and the offeror receives a portion to eat as well. The Shlamim are the only sacrifice of which all three, Hashem, the Kohayns, and the offeror partake.

So, there is an aspect of unity implied in the Shlamim itself. The unity of Hashem, the Kohayns, and the offeror is necessary in the process of the offering itself. It is in this unity that we can see the true meaning of Shlamim. It is the completeness or fullness of the unity between Hashem, the leadership, and the individual. It is only through understanding this unity that we can understand the three different types of the Shlamim.

The three Shlamim are the Neder, the vow (not the Nazir), the Nadav (the gift), and the Todah (the thanksgiving). The Neder is to be brought upon the completion of a vow to Hashem. The Nadav is brought simply as a charitable gift to Hashem. The Todah is brought as a thank you to Hashem. In each of these instances, it is important that Hashem, the Kohayn, and the offeror all participate. It is only with the unity of all of these elements that the sacrifice is valid.   

This is a particularly important lesson during these times. When facing difficult circumstances, it is important to remember that it is only through the unity of Hashem, the leadership, and the individual, that the offerings of our heart may be Shaleim, complete. So, let us face these times in the circumstances in unity as individuals, with the leadership, and with Hashem, and may you and yours remain safe and healthy. Amayn.


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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.