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Parshat Tzav – Holy Fire


Leviticus 6:1-2

1 And the L-RD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 Command Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the torah of the burnt-offering: it is that which goes up on its firewood upon the altar all night unto the morning; and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning thereby.

            Note that the verse does not state, “this is the burnt offering”, but rather, “this is the torah of the burnt offering”.  From this one extra word, we learn that one who involves himself in the study of the Torah regarding the burnt offering is regarded as if he had actually brought a burnt offering on the altar.  In the absence of the Holy Temple, and of the ability to bring korbanot (“sacrifices”), a person nevertheless is able to draw forth the benefits of the olah through the learning of Torah.  From here, we can better understand the concept of “from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed, the only place where G-d can be found is within the four cubits of halacha” (Berachos 8a).

            The Ba’al HaTurim, Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, makes the following observation: in Parshat Ha’azinu, the verse states, “from His Right Hand He gave a fiery law to His people”.  In Hebrew, “[a] law to His people” is daled-tav lamed-mem-vav, דת למו, which, when the letters are rearranged, spell תלמוד or Talmud, which means Torah study.  The korbanot are referred to as ishei Hashem, (“fire-offerings to G-d”), and the Torah is called eish dat (a fiery law).  From here, we can see the connection between the Torah and the sacrificial offerings.  

Furthermore, the korbanot are called “My bread” (Numbers 28:2).  Bread is known as the “staff of life”, as we see in the Psalms, “bread sustains the heart of man” (104:15).  The Torah itself is referred to as “bread”, as the verse states, “come nourish yourselves with My bread” (Proverbs 9:5).  The connection, says the Ba’al HaTurim, is obvious: just as mankind cannot sustain its existence without bread, all of existence cannot be sustained without Torah.

Just as the korban olah was entirely for G-d’s, and was consumed by fire in its entirety, may we be blessed to be enveloped entirely by G-d’s Torah, and to keep the fire burning continuously.


By Rabbi Tani Burton

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