Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Table Talk for Tzav 5768

Every morning after we recite the morning blessings, we spend about five minutes reciting (read here: rushing through) korbanot -- sacrifices. What do we recite and why?

We recite those sections of the Torah in which the Torah commands us to offer the various daily and weekly sacrifices in the Temple. The Chafetz Chaim explains in the Mishneh Brurah (Orech Chayim 48:1) that the Rabbis added this recitation to the daily davening because they believed that although we cannot offer sacrifices in the Temple nowadays, “one who immerses himself in [the study and recitation] of the sacrifices, the Torah considers him as if he had actually offered them to God.” So it’s a good idea to try and get to shul early enough to recite the daily korbanot.

Kli Yakkar finds a powerful source for this practice at the beginning of the parshah. The Torah tells us that God tells Moshe, צַו אֶת-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת-בָּנָיו לֵאמֹר, זֹאת תּוֹרַת הָעֹלָה: הִוא הָעֹלָה עַל מוֹקְדָה עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כָּל-הַלַּיְלָה, עַד-הַבֹּקֶר – “Command Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the law of the burnt-offering: it is that which goes up on its firewood upon the altar all night unto the morning.” Kli Yakkar explains that the words הִוא הָעֹלָה refer not to the sacrifice itself, but to the study of Torah about the sacrifices. He therefore reads the verse slightly differently.

זֹאת תּוֹרַת הָעֹלָה – “one who studies the Torah of the sacrifices”; הִוא הָעֹלָה – “this study is equivalent to the offering of the sacrifices themselves”. And, we must study about these sacrifices without being able to offer them כָּל-הַלַּיְלָה, עַד-הַבֹּקֶר – “the entire night until morning.” Here the Torah hints to the dark night of exile and our need to remember and study about the sacrifices until the morning light of redemption. But, when the redemptive light of morning comes, we will no longer need to recite the verses about the sacrifices. We’ll be offering them in the Beit Hamikdash.