A Command for Generations

Today’s “parasha” {פרשה} (weekly Torah portion) is “Tzav” {צו} (‘command’ in Hebrew) – which is the second “parasha” in the Book of Leviticus and is found in Leviticus 6:1–8:36.

This “parasha” continues with the discussion of the laws of the sacrifices in the Tabernacle in its first part, while the second part is dedicated to the work of the “Kohanim” {כהנים} (Hebrew for ‘priests’) in the Tabernacle and later on Temple. It also completes what it is written about the Tabernacle in the book of Exodus in the weekly Torah portion of “Tetzaveh” {תצווה}  (from four weeks ago).

Some of you probably noticed the closeness between the Hebrew name ‘Tetzaveh’ {תצווה} and our weekly Torah portion’s name – ‘Tzav’ {צו}. Both Hebrew names ‘Tzav’ and ‘Tetzaveh’ derived from the same root that means ‘command.’

Although both words share the same Hebrew root, there is one important difference between the meaning of these two Hebrew words – the word ‘Tzav’ (our weekly Torah portion’s name) is stronger and suggests ‘a command for generations’ (*in Modern Hebrew it means ‘decree’).

And that is EXACTLY the main difference between the ‘command’ for building the Tabernacle’s vessels – once they are built it is once and for all (which is written in the weekly Torah portion of “Tetzaveh” in Exodus) and the ‘command’ of the regular everyday work at the Temple – as written in our weekly Torah portion “Tzav”.