Parashat Tzav – The Continuous Fire

This new portion gives more details on the 5 main categories of sacrifices.

1 – Olah (ascending [offering]) (Lv 1:1-17 & 6:8-13).

2 – Minkha (tribute [gift offering of grain]) (Lv 2:1-16; 6:14-23).

3 – Shelamim (Peace [offering]) (Lv 3:1-17; 7:11-36).

4 – Hatat (purification [offering]) (Lv 4:1-5:13; 6:24-7:7).

5 – Asham (guilt [offering]) (Lv 5:14-6:7; 7:1-7).


KJV Clarification of the day

Before our devotional I’d like to take a few seconds to tell Christians about their KJV [and by the way its Spanish equivalent ‘Reina 10015010_10152080728659069_802992536_nValera’]. With this, I don’t pretend to criticise or offend anyone. I’m no one to do that. However, this should call to their attention why is it so important to learn the Hebrew that is behind their translations.

My focus is going to be the fanatic group (yes, I said fanatic) that believe that the English version of the Bible also known as “the King James” [whether the 1611 or the 1631] is totally perfect and equally inspired as if Moses himself wrote it; even higher than the Hebrew itself. I know it’s nuts, but people believe it. There are some Bibles in foreigner countries that are literally translations from the King James, instead of translate from the original Hebrew!! Let me tell you that relying on a translation when we have the original text is like trying to solve your doubts with students of your same level, instead of going and ask the teacher.

First, if God wanted English to be the inspired text of the Torah, he would have made Moses write it in English. God didn’t choose English, nor Spanish, nor Russian, nor Latin, nor Chinese, not even Greek; all those were later translations. Keep in mind that Moses came from Egypt; he could have written the Torah in Egyptian. BUT God dictated the Torah, word by word, in Hebrew, and Hebrew alone  keeps all its treasures and wonders (together with its sister Aramaic).

Example: Imagine the Torah uses the word: ‘melutash’ which means to ‘refine something’ and the English renders it as “Polish”. Then a third party uses an English dictionary to know about the word “Polish”, and they find it means: “Pertaining to Poland”; so they deduce that the Bible is talking of a Polish person. Do you see how far from the source one can go?

Second, translations are limited to a single interpretation, and don’t make justice to the inspired text. For example, In Genesis 1:21 (vaYivera Elokim et haTaninim haGedolim) the Hebrew is very rich and abundant, hiding Jewels in its many levels of interpretation. The King James renders the phrase simply as: “God created great whales” and that’s all; a poor translation with no magic.

Third, translations contain errors, and the King James is not exempt. For example the 1631 version of the King James says: “thou shall commit adultery” (Ex 20:14 KJV 1631). Really? Since when are we permitted to commit adultery?

And I will give a few examples of errors in that text that are literally misguiding the Christian church today.

(a)   There are words that with the time have a different meaning; to call the “Holy Spirit” today by the term: “Holy Ghost” is unacceptable and misguiding. ‘Ruakh HaKodesh’ is NOT a Ghost!!

(b)   The irreverent name for The Blessed Holy One in the King James, Jehov… is a hybrid invention, product of mixing the Tetragramma with the vowels of Adonai. Besides, the Torah commands reverence for that Name; it should not be “used” and “wasted” for the irreverent masses,  as our sages taught: “Don’t make common the Name of HaShem your God” (Ex 20:7).

(c)    In the King James sometimes Passover is called Easter (cf. Acts 12:4). No need to say they are totally two different feasts. One is Biblical, the other is secular/pagan.

Now, why I came to this? Because the King James Version translates the 2nd category of sacrifices –the Minkha offering – as “meat offering” (Lv 2:1; 6:14). Ironically, there’s no meat in the Minkha offering. Minkha in Hebrew means “tribute” or “Gift” and consists of ‘Grain offerings’; not of “Meat”. In the archaic English “meat” was equivalent with ‘meal’ and somehow it was OK; not perfect, but OK. People who are not aware of this and read the KJV today are being misguided.

Equally there’s a category of sacrifices called: “Hatat” (חטאת) which is commonly translated as “Sin offering” (since ‘Hatat’ also means sin or offence, from the word Hataחטא, which means to “go astray”, to “deviate”). However, with this limited translation we cannot see the whole picture. The word ‘Hatat’ also means to “Purge”; to “purify”. Keep in mind that the ‘Hatat’ offerings were also brought in cases in which the person didn’t sin; for example when a Nazarite finished his vow (Nm 6:14) or when a woman had a baby (Lv 12:6).  Therefore is written: “Moses took the blood… and purified (veyaHate, ויחטא) the altar” (Lv 8:15), it would be wrong to say: “Moses took the blood and sinned at the altar”.

And now we can begin our study.

On the Korbanot

  • Why is it so important to study properly the Laws of Sacrifices and all its details, especially now that there’s no Temple? Because Sacrifices are the essential element in the worship service and we all are a Sanctuary for the Divine Presence, after the verse: “Make me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell within them” (Ex 25:8; Terumah). In other words, when we know how to bring the sacrifices, we learn how to properly worship God, as it’s written: “Hineh, Shmoah miZebakh” (Behold, obedience [comes] from sacrifice) (1S 15:22).

In fact, in the ancient Israel, Jewish children started their study with Leviticus; not with Genesis, because as the children were pure and didn’t question God, it was considered more important the holiness of worship than to know that God made the world (cf. Vayikra Rabbah 7:3).

  • There are two categories for the Temple services: the “inner services” in the Heikhal (the palace, inside the building) and the “outer services” in the Azarah (the courtyard). This applies to our inner sanctuary: the “inner development of Spirituality” and the “sanctification of God’s Name in this material world”.

One might think that working within takes preference over external work. However the Temple service begins lighting the fire of the external altar, and from it we take the fire with which we will light the Menorah and the internal altar.

This teaches us that God is not interested in people who only focus in “Self-Realization” and forget the rest of the world. So the Heart of the Torah is to ‘love our neighbour’ and this rule should be the seal of all our spiritual development.

When we say “Israel are the chosen people” it doesn’t mean they are chosen to live in the world to Come alone. It means they were chosen to be a Light to the nations (Is 42:6).

It’s written: “Their ascending offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for My House is to be called a House of Prayer for all people” (Is 56:7).

This is said concerning the Temple, yet it applies to the inner sanctuary of all nations (lekhol haAmim) which should be called “A House of Prayer” too. This teaches that God’s desire is to dwell within everyone; He wants the whole Earth to be his home. Although the Holy City may be the capital of the kingdom, the Kingdom is within us all.  It is therefore written: “My Name is great among the nations, and offerings for my sake are presented in every place” (Mal 1:11). Now this seems like a contradiction since sacrifices were restricted only to be offered in Jerusalem (Dt 12:14). But this speaks of those who study the Word of God in order to obey it; for God accounts them as having offered an ascending offering (cf. Menakhot 110a), so it’s written: “HaShem delights with ascending-offerings and sacrifices as obeying HaShem’s voice [KiShmoah bikol Adonai]” (1Sam 15:22).

  • Sacrifices were offered three times per day. This also applies to our inner Sanctuary. We must bring offerings three times per day too, as it’s written: “I will call upon God… Evening, morning and at noon” (Psal 55:18 [17]).

We also learn from Daniel: “He kneeled upon his knees three times a day” (Dn 6:11 [10]). As the Korban has the purpose to bring the worshipper closer to the Holy of Holies, our Prayer also has the purpose to bring us each day closer to Heaven.

Our prayers must be like an Ascending [burnt] offering. The best prayer is the one that you don’t expect to receive reward for. It ascends to Heaven and burns entirely for God. Then your closeness with the Creator will be like the closeness of two friends, as it’s written: “Abraham my friend” (Is 41:8). A true friend doesn’t come closer to you because he needs something from you, but because he misses your company.

Such is the ‘Olah sacrifice’.

A continuous fire must burn upon the altar; it must not be quenched” (Lv 6:6 [6:13]).

There is a fire of love for God that burns within every soul. Torah commands that this Eish Tamid (Continuous fire) won’t be quenched. Our sages explain that “continuous” implies even during Shabbat, and even under conditions of ritual impurity (Yerusalmi Yoma 4:6).

“Shabbat” means “in a time of high spirituality, a time in which we are separated from the mundane”. “Ritual Impurity” represents the opposite side, an excessive attachment to the material world (cf. Maayanah Shel Torah).  In both cases the Torah warns not to let the fire to be quenched. This is because there are some who have enjoyed the pleasures of the Divine Presence, and unconsciously think nothing of this world can harm them. The Torah warns those who think to be standing, to be careful not to fall.

Similarly, there are those who reach a moment in life in which their spiritual level is very low (many feel so disconnected from the Divine Presence). Anyways, Torah tells them not to quench the fire. Whatever is your situation, you must continue bringing wood to the altar.

The Purpose of Obedience


Command [Tzav] Aaron and his sons to say: This is the Torah of the Ascending-offering” (Lv 6:2 [6:9]).

The word “Tzav” means to “charge” to “command” something. The companion verb of “Tzav”צו is “asah”  עשה(to do). Quite often we see both words in the same sentence: “Command” [Tzav] and “To do” [laasot].  From Tzav comes the word “Mitzvah” (Commandment). The word thus implies a required obedience as in the first time we find it: “And the Lord God commanded Adam” (Gn 2:16). So we read: “And Moses and Aaron did so [vaya’as]; as HaShem commanded [Tziva] them” (Ex 7:6).

If we take together the two roots: Tziva and Asah in Gematria they equal seven times the word “Life” (Hayim). Seven for “Completeness” as explained in previous weeks.

Therefore it’s written: ‘you may command [תצום] your children to observe to do [לעשות] all the words of this Torah… because it is your Life [חייכם]” (Dt 32:46-47).

 צוה + עשה = 476

חיים*7 = 476

In Kabbalah, the number 476 also represents two times “Rachel”. Rachel represents the Sefirah of Malkhut (the kingdom, the Divine Presence within the community), for it is written of her: “Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she tended them”.

צוה + עשה = 476 = רחל רחל

Equally, The Divine Presence is with the flock separated from her groom, waiting for all corrections to be done and unite with Yakov. So the purpose of the commands and the obedience is to unite the Bride and the Groom in two levels: the inner service and the outer service of our inner Sanctuary in order to bring a complete meaning of “Life” to this world.  May it be soon in our days.


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