Shabbat Table Talk
Parashat Tsav, Shabbat HaGadol, Erev Shabbat 23 March, 2018
Week of 18 0 24 March
Torah Portion: Lev. 6:1-8:36 Haftarah: Mal 3:4-24
Theme: Bring Out My Deshen(s)
Tzav is a mandatory command of the L-rd to Moshe, that of Shabbat and Pesach. Today is the great Shabbat because a few days from now is the Pesach. Shabbat is rest, while Pesach relives the great freedom. What is the connection of today’s readings that points to different offerings? If we look closely, there is a command of the L-rd that many of us overlooked, – 6:4-6, “He (priest) shall…carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning, not to go out: every morning the priest shall feed wood to it, lay out the burnt offering on it…A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to go out.” The דשך (deshen: ashes of the fats) are considered a trash that must be יצא (yatza: carry[ied]) outside, or dispose. These fats turned into דשך (deshen: ashes) because of אש(esh: fire). In these three verses, fire and all synonymous to it are redundant, such us: יקד(yaqad: burning) and בער(ba’ar: burn); and the one burned, that is בער(ba’ar) must be disposed.
The Hebrew word ba’ar can also mean, “consumed,” “dull-hearted,” “brutish,” “barbarous,” “unreceptive,” or “destroyed;” these can symbolize unpleasant experiences that happened to us, such as: wrong decisions, short-comings, difficulty to forgive (self or others), painful memories, and so on that consumed us. Looking back, these negativities have turned us “brutish”, and therefore destroyed our being, our humanness. Such ashes in our life (deshen) must be להט(lahat: burned) and disposed, because they are אפר(epher: worthless; in Mal. 3.19)
It is worthless to dwell on the “dirt” in our life, yet we need to learn from the worthless things, so as to make our life new and worthwhile. Let us not keep residues of these ashes in our life. Do not let the negative past – the ashes, define or configure who you are or who you ought to be. As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch once said, “in order to fully appreciate something new…it is necessary to ‘bring out the garbage’ and make room for what will be newly created!” Therefore, let us יצא (yatza: clear out) the trashes, release oneself and start anew. The L-rd, through today’s readings is inviting you to a new beginning, that is, a life worthwhile and to its wholeness.
Today, a new אש (esh: fire) is being יקד(yaqad: kindled), one that will not be כבה (kabah: extinguished) because the L-rd will keep it in אש (esh: flames). Yet, are you willing to be בער (ba’ar: consumed) by this Divine love that its only desire is to lead you out to authentic freedom?
Reflection and Discussion: 1. Is it difficult for me to release the deshen in my life? What prevents me from bringing my deshen out? 2. What has been the effect of the deshen to my relationship to others and to myself? 3. What do I truly desire or what positively consumes me that keeps my life worthwhile?
This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by
Kristine Meneses, Ph.D., Philippines; Bat Kol Alumna 2016
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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