Flip a Kohen: Tzav 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How many major life transitions have you experienced? Were you able to apply what you learned from earlier transitions to more recent transitions?

As God continues to describe proper sacrificial offerings, there is already a hint at a priestly transition — even though the priests had yet to begin their work:

The Pitch: “And so shall the priest, anointed from among his sons to succeed him, prepare it; it is the Lord’s — a law for all time — to be turned entirely to smoke.” – Leviticus 6:15

Swing #1: “The literal sense of the Hebrew [of ‘from among his sons’] is ‘in his stead among his sons,’ but ‘in his stead’ is regularly used in references to monarchy to indicate the successor to the throne, and that must be the meaning here.” – Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary

Swing #2: “Regardless of who bore [the sacrifice’s] cost or who prepared it, it was the high priest’s responsibility to offer it.” – Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16

Swing #3: “[The Torah] teaches us that [even] from among the sons of a High Priest, if he is anointed [with oil] he is a High Priest, and if not, he is not a High Priest.” – BT Horayot 11b

Late-Inning Questions: Aaron, the High Priest, must already evaluate how his sons will eventually replace him. How do our commentators understand plans for priestly succession? Why should Aaron be expected to simultaneously do his job and think about the next person who will assume this responsibility? How does future uncertainty complicate our ability to plan? How do we best handle the uncertainty we face today?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: There are so many online offerings for our community — welcoming Shabbat, praying for healing worldwide, virtual Seders and classes … the list goes on. Find out the latest here.

Shabbat Shalom, and stay safe!