Parshas Tzav and Shabbos Hagadol 5758 - '98

Outline Vol. 2, # 23

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Shabbos Hagadol

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
E-mail: [email protected]

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.

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