Tzav

Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36; Haftarah: Jeremiah 7:21 – 8:3; 9:22 – 9:23

Synopsis –

This week’s parasha forms the second half of a pair of portions that deal with the sacrifices in preparation for the consecration of the Tabernacle which we will study next week. However, there is a very deliberate emphasis on the “law” of the sacrifice rather than the sacrifice itself. We study how the text – when read in its overall context – stresses the fact, realized by Jewish and Christian commentators throughout the generations, that the sacrifices are presented as equivalent to the Torah, or – to say it is a different way – offering a sacrifice of any kind is likened to the offering of one’s study and mediation of the Torah.

Scripture References

Col 1:15–20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

External Sources

(Lv 6:9) Paterius – Exposition of the Old and New Testament

That fire is perpetual that is never extinguished on the altar. The altar of God is our heart. Fire must always burn in it, for the flame of charity must always burn on it for God. Day by day, the priest puts wood on the fire, lest it go out. Everyone who has faith in Christ has been made a member of the high priest. The apostle Peter says to all the faithful, “You are an elect people, a royal priesthood.”2 The apostle John says, “You have made us a kingdom and a priesthood for our God.”3 The priest who feeds the fire on the altar and puts wood on it each day is each one of the faithful. To keep the flame of charity from going out in himself, he does not cease to gather both the examples of the elders and the testimonies of Holy Scripture. To call to mind the examples of the fathers or the precepts of the Lord in the practice of charity is to put fuel on the fire. Since this inner newness of ours grows old in the daily living of life, wood must be used to feed that fire. While the fire grows dim as we age, it grows bright again through the testimonies and examples of the fathers. And the command is good, to gather wood each day in the morning. This cannot be done except when the night of darkness is banished. Since morning is the first part of the day and comes when we have put off thoughts of this present life, each of the faithful should think of this task first so that the practice of charity can inflame whatever is just about to die out in him, by the efforts he can make. For that fire on the altar of God—that is, in our hearts—is soon extinguished unless it is carefully maintained by the examples of the fathers and the testimonies of the Lord.

(Lv 8:3) Cyril of Jerusalem – Catechetical Lecture 18.24

Well is the church named ecclesia [“assembly”], because it calls forth and assembles all men, as the Lord says in Leviticus: “Then assemble the whole community at the entrance of the meeting tent.” It is worthy of note that this word assemble is used in the Scriptures for the first time in the passage when the Lord established Aaron in the high priesthood. In Deuteronomy God says to Moses, “Assemble the people for me; I will have them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me.” He mentions the name of the church again when he says of the tablets: “And on them were inscribed all the words that the Lord spoke to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly”; as if he would say more plainly, “on the day on which you were called and gathered together.” And the psalmist says, “I will give you thanks in a great church [ecclesia], in the mighty throng I will praise you.”

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