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Parshat Tsav - VaYikra (Leviticus) 6:1 - 8:36

Duties, Rites and Rights

Parsha Tsav sets out the rituals surrounding the various types of offerings (sacrifices) upon the altar in the Tent of Meeting and later Beit HaMikdash. In the first five chapters of Leviticus the duties of responsibilities of those bringing their offerings was the main focus. In these chapters that attention moves from the presenter to the kohanim (priests) and their duties, the rites involved and their rights as kohanim concerning their portion.

[1] The Burnt Offering:

This sacrifice is to remain on the altar until fully consumed by the perpetual fire into ash. One set of vestments is to be worn by the kohain during the presentation of the offering, its slaughter and placement on the altar — then replaced by a different set of vestments (usually older) for the removal of the ashes to a designated clean (holy, set apart) location outside the camp.

[2] The Meal Offering:

The kohain will take a handful of the choice flour mixed and saturated with oil and frankincense and offer it on the altar for Adonai. The remaining portion belongs to the kohanim. Only they can eat of it and it must be eaten within the confines of the Tent of Meeting. Adonai’s portion and that of the kohanim must be baked without leaven.

[3] The Priestly Anointing Offering:

A tenth of an ephah (~ 9.3 cups dry weight) of the choicest flour. 4.6 cups in the morning and 4.6 cups in the evening well soaked in oil, unleavened and baked on the altar. The entire anointing offering is consumed by the fire and is only for Adonai. The kohanim shall not partake of it. It shall be treated as a whole offering unto Adonai and not eaten.

[4] The Sin Offering:

This offering is slaughtered in the manner and location as prescribed by Adonai to Moshe [SEE: Leviticus 1:1-17]. Only the kohanim may eat of their portion within the walls of the Tent of Meeting. Their blood stained vestments must be cleaned within the confines of the Tabernacle. Any sin offering still containing any blood cannot be eaten but must be fully consumed to ashes on the altar.

[5] The Guilt Offering:

Slaughtered in the manner and spot allocated for the sin offering. All the priestly rules specified by HaShem concerning the sin offering also apply to the guilt offering.

[6] The Gratitude or Thanksgiving Offering:

Along with the appropriate animal sacrifice [SEE: Leviticus 3:1-17], the presenter will offer up an unspecified number (it is a gratitude offering) of baked unleavened cakes of wafers (matzos) well soaked in oil. These will be the portion for the kohain who dashed the blood of the sacrifice upon the walls of the altar during his duty shift.

When these offerings are consumed is determined by the reasons given for it. It it was out of gratitude or thanksgiving to Adonai it must all be eaten on the day it was presented and offered upon the altar. Any remaining is to be consumed by fire into ash.

If it was purely a free will offering or done to fulfill a pledge or vow (a votive offering) it too shall be eaten on the day it is offered, however, if any remains to the next day it may be consumed then. However, any of the sacrifice remaining by day three must be fully consumed by fire. Anyone who eats of it after day three shall bear his own guilt and be offensive to HaShem.

The remainder of Chapter 7 speaks to holiness, being set apart and the strict admonishment from HaShem concerning the touching of anything designated as unclean — be it person, creature or thing — and the severe punishment for those who touch or eat of an unclean (unholy) thing.

“…that person shall be cut off from his kin.” (Leviticus 7:21)

Further warning against the dangers of eating fat and blood are given:

“If anyone eats the fat of animals from which offerings by fire may be made to Adonai, the person who eats it shall be cut off from his kin. And you must not consume any blood, either of bird or animal, in any of your settlements. Anyone who eats blood shall be cut off from his kin.” (Leviticus 7:25-27)

Once HaShem was completed with designating the rites for the offerings He has Moshe assemble all the people, along with Aharon and his sons to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.

In full view of the entire House of Israel Moshe washes, clothes and anoints Aharon as their Kohain HaGadol (High Priest) and his sons as the kohanim dedicated to the service of HaShem, His Tabernacle and His people — Israel.

The proper anointing sacrifices were made upon the altar for Aharon and his sons. Then Moshe takes blood from the sacrifices and anoints Aharon’s right ear lobe, right thumb and right great toe — separating Aharon as holy and set apart for HaShem from head to toe. He does the same for Aharon’s sons also setting them apart for their dedication and service to HaShem.

Then, taking from Moshe the sacrificial animal parts, the cakes of unleavened bread Aharon officiates his first anointed act as Kohain HaGadol and waves them upward toward the abode of HaShem. Moshe then takes the parts and cakes and offers them upon the altar where they are consumed by fire to ashes.

There, in the confines of the Tent of Meeting Moshe, Aharon and his sons remained for seven full days until the period of their ordination was completed.

“And Aharon and his sons did all the things that Adonai had commanded through Moshe.” (Leviticus 8:36)

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