Tzav: Clean Up After Yourself

Detailed instructions for the cohen to keep tidy.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7

As we all know, the purpose of parshat Tzav is to address the cohanim regarding the performance of the korbanot, whereas parshat Vayikra addressed the nation regarding their obligation to bring them.

The cohen, after all, carried on his shoulders the responsibility of ensuring that the korbanot were sacrificed correctly, according to the wishes of HaShem. It is interesting to note, therefore, that the first thing the cohen is commanded to do in this parsha is to remove the deshen, the ashes, of the previous day's korbanot (Vayikra 6:3,4):

"The cohen shall put on his linen garments... and take up the ashes resulting from the burning of the Olah, and place them besides the mizbayach. He shall then remove those garments, put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a pure place."

The Sefer HaChinuch elaborates, teaching that the purpose of the mitzvah is to enhance and beautify the sanctuary by keeping it clean, and thereby the fire of the korbanot will burn well. Also, it does not make sense for the cohen to soil the garments in which he performs the regular service; therefore, he must change to simpler garments.

Why would the Torah give us such detailed instructions regarding something that would seem to be clear and self evident to the ordinary housewife? There are two answers I would like to present:

1. Bahya, in his classic sefer, Hovot Halevavot, teaches that the cohen is reminded on a daily basis of the need for humility. Though his role was so central, so important to the proper functioning of the daily service, symbolized by his very special garments, it also included lowly, mundane, clean-up tasks. The cohen must remove his
The new day's tasks need to be carried out in a clean and renovated place.
glorious garments when he takes away the deshen, thus reminding himself to remove any pride and haughtiness from his heart.

2. Rabbi Hirsch teaches that though every day brings new zest and excitement in the performance of mitzvot, we must not neglect the need to clear away, clean up, complete, anything that is leftover from the previous day's work. The new day's tasks need to be carried out in a clean and renovated place.

It is hard for us to imagine the importance of the service in the Bait HaMikdash because it has not existed for two thousand years. It is therefore necessary to emphasize the moral and ethical lessons that we learn from the korbanot and the avodah, so that we develop within ourselves a deep yearning for geulah. Hopefully, this would bring more and more Jews to Eretz Yisrael in our time, thus bringing closer the building of the Bait HaMikdash.
Pearl Borow writes from Jerusalem.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.