Parashat Tzav begins by repeating the procedure for the sacrifices discussed in last week’s Parasha. This time the Torah directs its words to Aaron and his sons, giving details regarding the portions of the sacrifices they receive.
God commands Moses to prepare Aaron, his sons, and the Tabernacle for the priesthood. This includes washing Aaron and his sons, dressing them in their ritual garments, and anointing both Aaron and the Tabernacle with oil. Moses explains that this ceremony will last seven days, and all that has been done and sacrificed that day has to be repeated on each of the following days.
The book Teaching Torah gives a beautiful insight into the role of the priests and the priestly offering. The priests, especially the High Priest, were role models for the Israelites. The High Priest had to be sinless in order to carry out his duties. But, since no individual is sinless, the High Priest brought a daily sacrifice atoning for any sins he may have committed.
So what do we learn from this? If the High Priest can bring a sacrifice, admitting that he needed to repent for any sins and asking for forgiveness, his action may motivate others to do so as well. The High Priest brought and offered his sacrifices publicly, without feeling ashamed. This was a message to the Israelites that they also should bringing sacrifices of atonement and not feel ashamed for their need for repentance.
Judaism is not a religion which demands perfection. Its creators knew that human beings were not perfect people and could never be perfect people. Therefore, it sets up rituals and prayers that respond to the realistic nature, both positive and negative, of daily human life.
Judaism is a religion that demands continuous growth and development of the human being. The observances of Mitzvot are the vehicle through which we as Jews develop and grow intellectually, spiritually, and ritually. Whether it is lighting Shabbat candles, giving Tzedakah, or observing Kashrut, all are important and all should be viewed as the stepping stone to the next level of knowledge and observance.