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The Ram of Ordination


Torah Portion: Parashat Tzav ("Command")

Shabbat: April 1, 2023 Nisan 10, 5783

Torah: Lev. 6:8-8:36

Prophets: Malachi 4:-24

New Covenant: Heb. 7:23-8:6 Heb. 9:11-28


The Shema

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”. Deut. 6:4-5


The climax of the revelation at Sinai was the commandment to construct the Sanctuary, otherwise called the Mishkan or the "Tabernacle." Nearly half of the Book of Exodus is focused on the Tabernacle, and the book concludes with the Glory of God filling the Holy of Holies partition of the Tent. The Book of Leviticus begins right where the book of Exodus left off, with God calling to Moses from the Tent to explain the various animal and grain offerings (korbanot) that may be offered at the new Tabernacle...

In this week's Torah portion (Tzav) many of the laws of the sacrifices are repeated, though this time Moses addressed the priests directly and provided additional details about how to perform their functions. For example, the priests were to ensure that the fire of altar never went out and that the whole burnt offering (olah) was consumed as it burned throughout the night. Additional rules concerning the removal of ashes from the altar, the portion of the offerings that were given to the priests, and the cleansing of utensils are given.

God then instructed Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons for their service in the priesthood. This involved washing them with water, arraying them in the priestly garments, and anointing them with holy oil. During the ordination ceremony, a sin offering and burnt offering were slaughtered on behalf of the priests, and then a special "ram of ordination" (i.e. eil ha'meelu'im: איל המלאים) was slaughtered. Some of this ram's blood was put on the right ear, right thumb, and big toe of the priests, and the rest was sprinkled around the altar. The sacrifice was then "waved" before the LORD and its meat was eaten with unleavened bread at the entrance to the Mishkan. Aaron and his sons were thereafter required to remain within the Mishkan for seven days and nights until their period of consecration was complete.

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