This weeks parsha, Tzav, begins with the laws of the Korbon Oleh- a sacrifice which was burnt in its entirety on the altar. “Tzav es Aharon...”, command Aharon, “Zos toras haOleh“, these are the instructions for the Oleh, “hei haOleh ol mokdah ol haMizbeach“, this is the oleh that will burn on the altar, “kol haloylah od haboker“, all of the night until the morning(6:2).
According to Rashi, this comes to teach us the law that the limbs and fats of the korbon can be burnt the whole night on the altar. Others show how this posuk is also alluding to other matters.
The Ohr HaChaim writes that this is referring to our present final exile. We are worn out from the length and severity of this galus. Hashem instructs Moshe to enlighten us and our Kohen leaders as to what will allow us to make it through this arduous ordeal. “Zos toras haOleh“, these are the instructions for the arising out of galus. “Hei haOleh“, this is the rising, the ultimate redemption that we await.
“Ol mokdah“, the burning fire of the Torah that we have kindled and fed. The light of the Torah that has been maintained throughout this long galus. In the merit of that, in addition to the “Ol haMizbeach“, the severe hardships endured, serving as an altar of atonement, we will persevere “kol haloylah“, the whole dark night of this galus, “od haboker“, until the shining morning light of our redemption.
The Kli Yakar offers a different insight. “Zos toras haOleh“, these are the instructions of the korbon oleh. This sacrifice is referred to as a ‘doron’, a gift to Hashem. Though it does come to atone for sinful thoughts, being that it is not an obligatory sacrifice, it is called a ‘gift’.
The Medrash asks is this a proper gift to Hashem?! That which comes to atone for a wrongdoing can hardly be called a gift! To that the posuk responds: “Hei haOleh… kol haloylah“! Yes! This is a proper gift during the confusing, misleading ‘night’ of this world- olam hazeh. If while we are enclothed in a physical body in a tempting and sensual world, we do recognize the gravity of even sinful thoughts, such an offering is a true ‘gift ‘ to Hashem.
“Od haboker“, until the morning. Once the blinding clarity of the next world is reached, the ultimate ‘morning’, and we will no longer have the ‘drag’ of our physicality, then we will be able to bring true ‘gifts’ to our Creator.
“Aish tamid tukad ol haMizbeach“- a constant flame should burn on the altar. The Rambam writes that there is a positive commandment for a fire to be continuously burning on the altar. Even though fire would descend from the heavens to consume the sacrifices, we are commanded to bring our own ‘hedyot‘, common flame.
The Sefer HaChinuch writes that the miracles Hashem does are always covered with a certain degree of ‘teva‘, natural normality. Even while spitting the Sea to allow Bnei Yisroel to escape the Egyptians, there was a strong eastern wind blowing. So too in regard to the altar, we are commanded to ignite our own flame in order to camouflage the incredible miracle of the fire descending from the heavens.
A person always has free will to decide how to perceive events. Even the greatest miracles offer an ‘out’ for those desperate to find one. Different people may experience the same occurrence yet will walk away with very different understandings of what had transpired.
After the splitting of the Sea, the posuk states: “The nation saw and they believed”. The Chidushei HaRim explains that even though they saw… they still needed to believe. Our physical eyes, so accustomed to seeing ‘natural’ events, automatically process phenomena as a result of a natural process of events. They saw and they believed. They recognized the miraculous. They saw through the veil of ‘nature’ and recognized the true cause of the events.
I recall hearing a beautiful illustration of this idea. (If someone could remind me of the source I’d appreciate it.) Imagine a child born in the Midbar during our forty year travel to Eretz Yisroel. From the earliest days that he can remember, food, in the form of manna, is dropped from the heavens. To him that is not the least bit miraculous. It is as natural as natural can be.
Finally, as a man in his mid-thirties, he enters Eretz Yisroel and the manna stops falling. Yehoshua takes some seeds and places them into the earth- a seeming waste of the scant food they still had. If one were to look into the ground and see the seeds they would appear to be disintegrating and, at that point, totally useless.
A few days later, when food begins to grow from the ground, this person, with wide eyed amazement, would scream IT’S A MIRACLE!!! Food from the ground- how unnatural! Clearly the wondrous Hand of Hashem at work!
Were we to see food falling from the heavens, we would proclaim a clear miracle! We are accustomed to food growing from the earth. When he saw food growing from the earth, he proclaimed a clear miracle! He was accustomed to food falling from the sky. Is there really a difference between food coming from the ground or from the sky? The only difference is what we are used to!
May we merit to see the miracles that are constantly around us, even during this time of “kol haloylah”, the darkness of this world. During these months of redemption may we reach that ‘morning’ that will end our mourning, with the coming of Moshiach tzidkeinu, bimhaira b’yameinu, amen!
Copyright © 1998 by Rabbi Yisroel Ciner and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author teaches at Neveh Tzion in Telzstone (near Yerushalayim).
Baltimore, MD 21215