Parashat Tzav (Command) Leviticus 6:1-8:36
Shabbat HaGadol (The Great Sabbath)
Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-24
The Shabbat prior to Passover is known as the Great Shabbat. This is because in Egypt, this was the day that the people took their Passover lambs into their homes in accordance with Exodus 12:3. If the Jewish year is not a leap year, that is, if there is no Adar Beit (the extra month added to certain years so Passover will always take place in the spring) Parashat Tzav always coincides with Shabbat HaGadol. Why would this be? The answer to this question appears at the end of this week’s Torah portion.
Beginning in chapter eight of Leviticus there is material about the consecration of the priests (Kohanim). This consecration was to inaugurate the work of the Kohanim at the House of G-d. What was their primary work?
“As he did on this day HaShem commanded to make atonement for you.” Lev. 8:34
The priests’ primary work was to make atonement for the Children of Israel. This fact is very important and foundational for one in his spiritual preparation for Passover. What is the benefit of atonement? If the priest carried out the work properly not only was atonement made, but they would not die. This fact is included in the text to teach the reader of the Torah, that without atonement, G-d’s people are without the means for forgiveness.
This same truth is taught concerning the resurrection, as Paul states, if Messiah did not raise from the dead, then our proclamation and our faith are in vain (See I Corinthians 15:14). Not only that, Paul continues and states,
“And if Messiah was not raised…you are yet in your sins.” I Cor. 15:17
In the same way that the Children of Israel celebrated Passover with a great joy, we too, believers in Messiah Yeshua, need to understand and express a great joy for our redemption especially during the Passover season (the seven days of unleavened bread, which includes Resurrection Sunday, which the Torah calls Resheet or first fruits).
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