Parsha Tzav 5770: Jewish Constancy or Rote and Complacency?

by Moshe Burt

In our Parsha, Tzav is Moshe’s command from Hashem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons to take up and clothe themselves in their Vestments, their garments of service in the Mishkan, and to begin their daily Avodah (service and offerings in the Mishkan).

For seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah in the Mishkan. (You might say that they were given, as they term it in the US, OJT from Shemayim.) On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began their Avodah.

We are taught in our Parsha about the two flames which burn continuously; the flickering light of the Menorah and the powerful flame of the Mizbeiyach (the altar where the various offerings to Hashem were brought). These two flames which burned constantly teach us that a balance must exist between strength and power and modesty and humility. These fires teach us about maintaining a consistency between enthusiasm and constancy. (L’lmod Ul’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Tzav, page 103-104)

Rabbi Pliskin writes in the Sefer “Growth Through Torah” on our Parsha that one should “view each new day as the first day of your life.” (Growth Through Torah, page 242) We later learn that Aaron HaKohen’s service each day was done with the same level of enthusiasm as was his first day of service in the Mishkan.

Many among our Jewish brethren have let their guard down, have eased off into complacency. Many of our brethren deny Hashem’s control of the world and seek to tailor Torah and their Jewishness to fit the ways of the nations; to assimilate, to melt rather than accepting Hashem’s reishut (command) over the world. Those of our brethren think that tailor-fitting their Jewishness to fit in with the nations, that assimilating — melting, that accepting Superpower dictates rather than Divine law, will somehow endear and ingratiate them to the non-Jew, to the Gentile nations. Instead, they view us with contempt, as hypocrites, lacking principles. A prime example of this phenomena is the aftermath of Bernie Madoff’s $50 Billion plus Ponzi scam and the resultant online anti-semitic fallout.

A Haaretz report 2 years ago on the Madoff affair cites ADL National Director Abe Foxman;

“Jews are always a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis, but the Madoff scandal and the fact that so many of the defrauded investors are Jewish has created a perfect storm for the anti-Semites…. Nowadays, the first place Jew-haters will go is to the Internet, where they can give voice to their hateful ideas without fear of repercussions.”

In a Jerusalem Post report at the same time (link now stale due to JPost’s recent change in format), Foxman is cited as saying:

“Blogging and social media sites are changing the way people communicate their reactions to events in the news and interact with each other… More people are online than ever before, and many more Web sites offer users the ability to comment immediately and anonymously. Those who harbor anti-Semitic beliefs feel most comfortable expressing themselves in cyberspace, where they can provoke a reaction from others or find like-minded individuals to affirm their beliefs.”

Foxman went on to cite talkback samples too crude, vulgar and anti-semitic to be repeated here.

For those Jews who say Dayenu regarding their Jewishness, it’s an imperative to revisit the Mitzri memory (or lack thereof) of Yosef and to contrast the dialogue between Haman Y’machsh’mo and Ahasuerus — Haman’s top 10 reasons for seeking the annihilation of the Jews as found in Daf Yud Gimmel (page13), amud(side)Bet, with the contemporary Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. Neither Haman nor Hitler Y’machsh’mom, made any distinction between the Religious or Secular Jew. Perhaps Foxman’s virtual online refresher as to latent, blatant anti-semitism is sufficient to awaken the pintele yid from lethargy and indifference,

There is a message here for Shabbos HaGodol and to be taken into Pesach, into the Seder; A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, period. You might change your name, compromise your principles, morals and integrity, try to adopt some other religion, intermarry or have a liberal or leftist outlook toward those seeking your destruction. But, in the end, you can’t run and you can’t hide from from the fact that YOU are a Jew. So we, in our generations, might as well start being, internalizing and acting Jewish?

And while we’re at it, we in the religious sectors ought to draw lessons from Aaron HaKohen’s consistent lifetime level of enthusiasm for and diligence with his service as Kohen Godol. We should apply them to our tefillot, i.e. reversing the shot-gun six minute Shemonah Esrei and speed-of-light one minute Aleinu, as well as renewal of our enthusiasm for our Avodah as Jews and for our Mitzvot. Laxity, rushed expedience in tefillot and Mitzvot are the mark of rote, mere habit, complacency and ultimately, insensitivity.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to stand up to prevent any further evictions of Jews from their homes and to prevent any further handing over of Jewish land to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos and Chag Same’ach!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.