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(Lev 6:1(8) - 8:38)

Vayikra/Leviticus 6:2   Give this order to Aharon and his sons, "This is the law for the burnt offering ..." (CJB)

The Sages of the Talmud tell us that when the Torah uses , command, rather than , speak, or , say, it indicates three things: (a) an urging on, (b) that the command must be carried out immediately and, (c) it must also be performed by future generations (b.Kiddushin 29a). Perhaps we should ask why this level of stress in needed for the laws of the burnt offering. Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi points out that the Tanna R'Shimon said, "Scripture must especially urge in a situation where there is a loss of money". In order to serve in the Temple, the priests had to leave their normal occupations to come to Jerusalem. With the other animal offerings, the cohanim got both meat and the hides, whereas with the burnt offering, only the hide is given to the priests. This would make the offering of a burnt offering less financially rewarding than the other types of offerings, so the Sages tell us that Aharon and his sons are specifically urged to carry out this duty as well as the rest of their functions.

This may be why Rav Sha'ul write to Titus saying, "speak confidently, so that those who have believed G-d may be careful to engage in good deeds" (Titus 3:8, NASB), or as another version translates it, "... may apply themselves to doing good deeds" (CJB). When there are a number of things that need to be done, or can be done, at the same time, we often choose first those which please us most or offer the most reward - be that spiritually or financially - leaving the less pleasant or attractive things until later, hoping that someone else might do them before we get back. After all, if they need doing, surely it doesn't matter if we pick the ones which we prefer; we then rationalise our choice by reasoning that those particular tasks suit us best, they are a better fit with our skill set or calling, so we will naturally do them better than other people whose skills lie in those other areas.

Yeshua spent one Shabbat at the home of a leading Parush (Luke 14:1-11) and noticed that the guests were choosing the best seats at the table. He cautioned them in a story to beware of picking out the best place because that may have been reserved for someone else: "instead, when you are invited, go and sit in the least important place; so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, 'Go on up to a better seat" (Luke 14:10, CJB). Like Aharon and his sons, we need to make sure that all the jobs get done without picking and choosing those which we would 'like' to do.

Further Study: Ephesians 2:8-10; Ya'akov 1:26-27

Application: Have you been focusing on only some of the things that the L-rd has given you to do, to the neglect of other equally important but less attractive things ? If so, then why not take this opportunity to apologise and catch up on some of the other stuff.

© Jonathan Allen, 2004

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