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Congregation Brothers of Israel

L'dor Vador - From Generation to Generation since 1883
לדור ודור


Torah Portion of the week

Tzav, Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36

This week's Torah portion includes the laws of: the Burnt Offering, Meal Offering, High Priest's Offering, Sin Offerings, Guilt Offerings and Peace Offerings. It concludes with the portions of the Peace Offerings which are allotted to the Priests and the installation ceremony of the Priest for serving in the Sanctuary.

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Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And the Lord spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying: 'This is the Law of the Transgression Offering, in the place where the Burnt Offering is slaughtered shall the Transgression Offering be slaughtered before the Lord; it is most holy' " (Leviticus 6:17-18).

Why does the Torah emphasize that the Transgression Offering must be made in the exact same place as the Burnt Offering?

The Talmud (Yerushalmi Yevomot 8:3) explains that they were offered in the same place in the Sanctuary to save from embarrassment those people bringing a sin offering; anyone witnessing the event could assume that the offering was brought as a Burnt Offering (which is not a sin offering) and not necessarily as an atonement for one's transgression.

Our lesson: We must be very careful not to cause someone embarrassment or discomfort when they have done something improper in the past and now regret it. Never remind anyone of past misdeeds. Always do whatever you can to protect people from embarrassment.


Candle Lighting Times

March 22
(or go to
Jerusalem 5:16
New York 6:52
Philadelphia 6:56
Quote of the Week

How happy are the pessimists!
What joy is theirs when
they have proved there is no joy
--  Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

On-Line Learning

Rabbi Gaber lead several Adult Education programs using ZOOM Web conferencing technology.  "You don’t have to leave the warmth and comfort of your home to have a discussion on confronting Antisemitism and Hate or the Human Genome or to discuss how to bring Judaism into the 21st century. I will be leading an online class.  You will not  only be able to hear me and see me, you will also see your friends in the same virtual classroom. There was an interesting line up of  webinars this past winter. Our final CBOI Online learning program this season has a dedicated link:     All you need do is enter this link into your favorite browser and follow the instructions.  If you get stuck, please let me know and I will help you get on line."  

*Don't worry, if you can't make the discussion at the appointed time, you'll still be able to learn about each topic:
See the CBOI On-line Learning page in Learn Navigation bar to see all the previous  On Line Zoom Learning sessions.

Join Rabbi Gaber on-line on March 13th for a discussion on How To Bring Shabbat Into Your Life

Observant Life



Chaired by Dr. Ellier Russ with the assistance of the Rabbi, this committee coordinates programs and classes to engage members in lifelong learning. Events include our yearly Scholar in Residence program, Talmud Study, Mah Nishtanah: What’s Different About Today’s Judaism, The Observant Life Book Series and more. Guest speakers, online webinars and Shabbat morning discussions additionally provide congregants with opportunities to expand their knowledge of Judaism and living a Jewish life.


 In fulfilling the following commandments one enjoys the yield in this world while the principal remains for a eternity, honoring father and mother, performing deeds of loving kindness, punctually attending the house of study morning and evening, showing hospitality to strangers, visiting the sick, helping the needy bride, attending the dead, praying .with devotion, and making peace between individuals. And the merit of Torah study is equal to all of these

Talmud, Shabbat 127



Parashat Tzav
March 23, 2019 I 16 Adar II 5779
Annual | Leviticus 6:1-8:36 (Etz Hayim p. 613; Hertz p. 429)
Triennial | Leviticus 8:1-8:36 (Etz Hayim p. 621; Hertz p. 435)
Haftarah | Jeremiah 7:21-8:3, 9:22-23 (Etz Hayim p. 627;
Hertz p.439

D’var Torah: Good Intentions

Lisa Feld, Conservative Yeshiva & Hebrew College Rabbinical Student

There’s an old saying that in theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there’s a great deal of difference. For weeks, we’ve been hearing every last detail about the planning and construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the priests’ clothing and the High Priest’s special equipment, the different kinds of offerings. Now, in Parashat Tzav, we finally move from theory to practice as Moshe ordains Aharon and his sons as priests and they perform the first actual sacrifices in this new sanctuary. The parasha ends by telling us that Aharon and his sons did everything God had commanded, everything went smoothly, and we’re off to the best possible start in this new stage of our relationship with God.

Or so it seems. Only a short chapter later, Aharon’s sons will die for offering “strange fire” on the altar. However smoothly things might be going on the surface in Tzav, something underneath clearly isn’t working right if the whole system of priestly sacrifices goes off the rails so quickly.

Because the text focuses only on what’s going right, we have to step back and think about what’s not being said if we want to unravel this mystery. We’re told all the details of how one is supposed to offer a sacrifice except for one: do you need proper kavanah (intention) for that sacrifice to be accepted? And if so, what constitutes that kavanah?

In Tractate Zevachim, the rabbis of the Mishna claim that there are six different proper intentions one can have in offering a sacrifice: doing it for the sake of the

offering, for the sake of the one who brings it, for the sake of God, for the sake of the altar fires, for smelling the aroma, for imagining how God will enjoy that aroma, or for the sake of the sin that a sin offering is supposed to atone for. But Rabbi Yosi says that even if you lack one of these kavanot, the sacrifice is still valid (BT Zevachim 4:6).

It’s hard to summon deep kavanah every time I pray. When a prayer is new to me, I can get so focused on saying it correctly that I don’t stop to think about the meaning of the words. When a prayer is familiar, I have a bad habit of praying from memory and then worrying if I absentmindedly skipped a phrase. I have to keep finding new ways into each prayer: visualizing the imagery of heavenly creatures praising God or God’s nostrils flaring in anger if we forget the commandments, my memories of singing these same prayers with my dad as a child, or my hope that praying will kindle my awareness of the miracles of nature as I go through my day.

There is a legend of a shepherd who was almost illiterate. As he stood in the back of the synagogue, embarrassed by his lack of knowledge but longing for connection with God, he began reciting the aleph-bet, saying, “God, You know what’s in my heart; can You please arrange these letters into the right words?” Overcome with emotion, he didn’t realize his voice was getting louder and louder until the members of the congregation began shushing him, wanting to throw him out for distracting them. But the rabbi stopped them. “The passion of his prayers reached heaven when none of ours could.”

But kavanah without the structure of prayer is also problematic, easily dissolving into inarticulate emotion. In his celebrated book Man’s Quest for God, Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “Prayer without kavanah is like a body without a soul…a body without a soul is a corpse, a soul without a body is a ghost.” Neither can function alone.

And so we return to Aharon and his sons, nervous and excited in their new clothes, making their offerings for the first time, trying to do everything correctly, and our hearts ache because we know they can’t sustain this bright new passion. All they can do, all we can do, is hope we can find some way to rekindle it with the right kind of fire every time we approach the altar.

D’var Haftarah: Confronting the Darkness

Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein, Conservative Yeshiva Faculty

The prophets were perceptive social critics. They lived both among their people and apart from them. As agents and intermediaries between God and the people, the prophet was not always sure of how God would respond to the frequent human failure to mend themselves. This deep awareness of God’s high expectations and the great human challenge of meeting them, often led to despair.

One ambiguous verse in this week’s haftarah, makes this palpable. In 8:4 Jeremiah says that God told him: "כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְהוָ֔ה הֲיִפְּל֖וּ וְלֹ֣א יָק֑וּמוּ אִם־יָשׁ֖וּב וְלֹ֥א יָשֽׁוּב" But this verse is very difficult to translate. The standard translation treats it as a pair of rhetorical questions: “Say to them: Thus, said the Lord: ‘When men fall, do they not get up again? If they turn aside, do they not turn back?’” (8:4) But this seems an overly optimistic read given the context. In the next two verses, God says: “Why is this people—Jerusalem—rebellious with a persistent rebellion? They cling to deceit, they refuse to return. I have listened and heard: They do not speak honestly. No one regrets his wickedness and says, “What have I done!” They all persist in their wayward course like a steed dashing forward in the fray.” (8:5-6)

So perhaps we should read 8:4 instead as Rashi does - as a statement and not a rhetorical question: “When men fall, they do not get up; when they turn, they [God’s decrees] do not turn.” Even though they turn, their wickedness is too great to avert their fate. Or, perhaps, as the Targum Jonathan translates it, “When they turn, [it will be revealed that] they did not turn” because they quickly return to their evil ways. Read this way, Jeremiah is struggling with the real possibility that people cannot change themselves, or at least not enough to make national redemption and reconciliation with God possible.

Jeremiah’s pessimism was a product of the environment in which he lived – an immoral nation on the verge of devastation, it's chance to repent long past. It was for these people that he had no hope.

But what purpose is there to preach despair? Perhaps, Jeremiah hoped to shock his people, to force them to confront the bleakness of their situation. Perhaps he thought, paradoxically, that the only hope for eventual redemption was to dash their hope for immediate redemption.

Indeed, the ultimate message of the prophets and of our tradition in general is that when we fall, we can get up; if we turn, we can return. Fixing is possible, even if it isn’t quick or easy.

Sun, March 24 2019 17 Adar II 5779