Tzav & Purim
by Rabbi Yaakov Menken
"Command Aharon and his children, saying 'this is the law of the Elevation
The Medrash comments upon the "command" to be "saying:" "Saying -- meaning
that you should say to the Children of Israel that they should involve
themselves in reading about the Elevation Offering [Olah]," learning and
speaking about it. Similarly, we find in the Talmud (Menachos 110) "this is
the law [Torah] of the Elevation Offering -- anyone who involves himself in
Torah study, it is as if he has offered an Elevation Offering."
If a person could not afford an Elevation Offering, or in our day -- when
we have no Temple to which to bring one -- we can involve ourselves in
Torah study, and it as if we brought a sacrifice! Such is the tremendous
power of Torah study. It has the power to change a person, just as bringing
a sacrifice in the Temple was supposed to change a person -- to make one
consider and change bad behavior and character.
While no formula is guaranteed if a person wishes to resist, there is no
question that Torah study has the power to transform and benefit a person,
even in ways too great for us to recognize.
There is an interesting connection between our parsha and the Purim story,
found in Tractate Megillah 16. Haman had a gallows erected in order to hang
Mordechai, but when he went to the King to ask for permission to do so, the
King turned to him and asked him what should be done to a person whom the
King wished to honor. Thinking that the King was obviously talking about
him, Haman set up an entire parade for the honored party, who would be
dressed in clothing which the King had worn, riding on a horse which the
King had rode upon. The King immediately told Haman to carry out every
instruction -- honoring Mordechai, who had saved the King's life by
revealing an assassination plot.
The Talmud tells us that when Haman went looking for Mordechai in order to
dress him and place him on the horse, he found him in -- where else -- the
House of Study, where Mordechai was teaching the other Rabbis about the
laws of the Meal-Offering [Mincha], specifically the way that the Kohen
would extract a small amount between his fingers and place it upon the
Altar, found in our parsha immediately after the Elevation Offering. He
asked Mordechai what he was discussing, and Mordechai responded that when
the Temple was standing, a person would bring a small portion of flour, and
a pinch of flour would atone for him. Haman said, "that pinch of yours will
come and push back the 10,000 silver pieces of mine [which Haman had
offered the King for the privilege of killing the Jews]!"
We can never even pretend to understand the full impact of what Haman was
saying, but just study, just discussing a pinch of flour, thoroughly
intimidated Haman. He realized that something tremendous was happening,
which he could not beat.
We have the opportunity, every day, to take that power into our own hands,
to transform ourselves and transform the world. Let's not waste that
Rabbi Yaakov Menken