Friday, 27 March 2015

Tsav: Insatiable Desire

by Twerski, Rabbi Dr. Avraham (See all authors)

This portion of the Torah describes the olah offering, which was entirely burned on the mizbe’ach (altar) and none of it was eaten by the kohanim. The Talmud says that the kohanim needed a stringent warning about the olah service because it involved a financial loss. One opinion is that inasmuch as the olah is totally burned and none of it is eaten, the kohanim might be lax in its service.

On the surface, this sounds absurd. The kohanim had more meat than they could possibly consume from the other offerings. Why would they care if one offering was entirely burned?

The Torah is pointing out the irrational nature of the acquisitive drive. A multibillionaire who could not possibly consume even a fraction of his wealth if he lived for a thousand years, still seeks to increase his wealth. Why? Because! It is like the mentality of the alcoholic who sees a sign on a tavern, “Grand Opening! All the booze you want for $1,” and says, “Give me $2 worth.”

The kohanim had no use for the meat of the olah, but if it was not available to them, they might be lax in its ritual.