Parshas Tzav and Shabbos Hagadol 5758 - '98
Outline Vol. 2, # 23
by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Chodshei Hashanah Vol. 2, Part 15
1. The Wise Son
Children are not fully obligated in mitzvos of the Torah. As they reach
the point where they can understand, parents are responsible to train them.
The childrenís full responsibilities, however, can only be activated at
bar mitzva age. Even so, at Pesach Seder -- everything seems dependent
on the children!
Chasom Sofer writes that this is part of the question of the Chochom
(the wise son). "What is the meaning of the laws which Hashem our
G-d has commanded you?" By saying "our G-d" the son includes
himself, yet "commanded you" excludes himself! The sonís intention
was: "Why has Hashem commanded you concerning me, when children are
normally exempt from commandments?"
The fatherís answer is: "Even if we be wise, understanding, knowing
the entire Torah, it is still a mitzva to recount the Exodus -- the more
one recounts the story, the more praiseworthy." Even though we fulfill
our obligation by asking the questions and reciting the brief answer: "Whoever
has not explained the Pesach, Matza and Moror has not fulfilled his obligation"
etc. Even so, the main praise is to go beyond the call of duty, demonstrating
our love, will and desire. Although Hashem may require from us only a small
amount, the more we do on our own accord, the more love and desire we show.
Thus, even the children are taught, in order to arouse their hearts to
the service. Even though the children are not obligated -- the parents
show even greater love when they bring the children in, as well.
2. Parshas Tzav -- "Command"
Our Parsha begins with the laws of the Eish Tamid -- the constant fire
on the altar -- and the Trumas Hadeshen -- the removal of the ashes. The
Parsha begins with the unusual expression: "Command Aharon and his
sons!" Rashi adds: " ĎCommandí is always a language of urging."
In the Beis Hamikdosh, the Kohanim used to race up the ramp of the altar,
to see who would merit to perform the mitzva of removing the ashes. This
mitzva was not obligatory upon any one person; thus the Kohanim would race
for it -- it was a chance to show their love and fervor to perform above
and beyond the call of duty.
3. Maariv -- The Evening Prayer
The three daily prayers correspond to the Avos (Patriarchs). Avraham
began the morning prayer, Yitzchak the afternoon prayer, and Yaakov the
evening prayer (see Brochos, 26b). The evening prayer was decreed as an
optional one (although, today, authorities agree that it has become binding
due to custom). Since Yaakov was the chosen among all the Avos (Patriarchs),
why was his prayer delegated to being the optional one?
The Sacrifices were only at daytime. Nighttime was reserved for burning
up of the leftover parts of the sacrifices, and, at the end of the night,
the ashes were removed. Those who stayed up late at night, did not do so
out of any obligation, but because they wanted to do so.
The three daily prayers also correspond to the sacrifices (Brochos,
ibid.). The Maariv (evening prayer) corresponds to the burning up of the
leftover parts of the sacrifices, which, as we said, was not obligatory
for anyone. This aspect -- late at night, above and beyond the call of
duty -- is the part of the services related most of all to Yaakov. (Based
on Chasom Sofer, Toras Moshe, Parshas Tzav)
4. Tzav -- The Optional Command -- Matza During the Course of Pesach
According to the Chasom Sofer, we will need to say that the language
of the Parsha: Tzav -- "Command" does not constitute a legal
requirement for any particular individual, only the "urging"
as discussed above.
Various authorities explain the mitzva of eating matza in a similar
manner. Although the matza is obligatory at the Seder, there is no obligation
to eat matza during the rest of Pesach. Still, there is a mitzva to do
so -- not an obligatory mitzva, but on optional one. (See Mishnah Bírura
in the name of the Gra, Kovetz Shiurim at the end of Kidushin in
the name of Rishonim). The implication is that eating matza at the Seder
shows our desire to fulfill our obligations; eating matza after the Sedarim
shows our willingness to go beyond the call of duty... To be like Yaakov
-- the chosen of the Avos -- who, with desire and fervor, wished to be
devoted as a loving son, not merely an obliging servant...
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Kollel of Kiryas Radin
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156
Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi
Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.