Parsha Thought – Tzav

We all know it to be true, one bad apple ruins the whole bushel. Bad morals corrupts good character. In our lives the law of entropy is always at work. Things flow from Good to Bad to Worse, never the reverse. Even Scripture supports this idea.

“Thus says the Adonai of hosts, ‘Ask now the priests for a ruling: ‘If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?’” And the priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?” And the priests answered, “It will become unclean.” Then Haggai said, “‘So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,’ declares the Adonai, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.

Haggai 2:11-14 NASB

All good and well, except that this week’s Torah Portion takes the opposite view. According to it, holiness can be transmitted to those who partake of the sacrifices, specifically the grain offering.

Every male among the sons of Aaron may eat it; it is a permanent ordinance throughout your generations, from the offerings of fire to Adonai. Whoever touches them will become consecrated.

Leviticus 6:1 NASB

The prophet Ezekiel says something similar when talking about the line of the priesthood descended from the sons of Zadok.

When they go out into the outer court, into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other garments so that they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments.

Ezekiel 44:19 NASB

So what’s going on here? Why the differences in the passages? Can holiness be transmitted, can defilement? The answer to both is, yes. Both can be transmitted given the right circumstances. But let’s focus on Leviticus 6:18. There are a few points worth noting here.

First, note who can eat of the sacrifice. “Every male among the sons of Aaron.” Why not just say any priest? Because due to age, sickness, mutilation or other factors, not every son of Aaron is a priest. Yet here, none of them are excluded from partaking of this sacrifice.

Second, this sacrifice is a gift made to Adonai. It wasn’t a gift from the people to the priesthood, it was a gift from the people to Adonai. Who then, in turn, gave it as a gift to the sons of Aaron.

Third, those who touch the sacrifice will become consecrated. The word in Hebrew is קדש, holy. There has been some debate if this is better translated as, “Whoever touches them must be holy.” But according to Tim Hegg the common use of the word indicates the correct translation is, “to become holy.”1

In this simple verse, is a beautiful image of our Messiah. In and through Him alone is holiness transmitted to us. He, as the perfect sacrifice, passes holiness to us when we come before Him. Regardless of age or whatever other “disqualification” we may have, when we come before Him with a heart desiring to be circumcised He won’t reject us.

We are much like the woman with an issue of blood who reaches out for the corner of His garment. In every way, we are unclean. Our disqualification would have been passed to any other we came into contact with.2 But when we encounter Adonai Yeshua, we are healed and made clean. His holiness alone will drive out the darkness that lives in our hearts.

And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” But Yeshua turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.

Matthew 9:20-22 NASB

May it be so with us. May we have an encounter with the One who will make us well. The one who will make us holy.

  1. https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/torahresource-site-content/Tr-Parashah-PDF-Epub-Mobi/parashah-080.pdf
  2. Leviticus 15:19
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