In Jars of Clay

The presence of Messiah within us consecrates forever. Though we still occupy mortal bodies, these are not ordinary clay pots. We are holy because of the holy treasure within us.

(Image composition, © Bigstock/FFOZ)

Tzav

Special Shabbat Reading

Special readings are applicable this Shabbat.

  • Shabbat HaGadol (שבת הגדול | The Great Sabbath)
  • Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-24
  • Gospel: Matt 17:9-13

Shabbat HaGadol ("Great Shabbat" שבת הגדול) is the Shabbat immediately before Passover. There is a special Haftarah reading on this Shabbat of the book of Malachi. Traditionally a lengthy and expansive sermon is given to the general community in the afternoon. Read more from Wikipedia »

Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Tzav (צו | Command)
  • Torah: Leviticus 6:1-8:36 *
  • Haftarah: Jeremiah 7:21-8:3, 9:22-23
  • Gospel: Matthew 9:10-17

Torah and Haftarah chapter/verse references are taken from the Hebrew Bible. Christian Bible references vary slightly when indicated with a *.

Regular readings above are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the current Torah Portion Schedule for all these variations, and special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Leviticus 6:8 | Instructions concerning Sacrifices
    • Leviticus 7:11 | Further Instructions
    • Leviticus 8:1 | The Rites of Ordination
  • Prophets
    • Jer 7:16 | The People's Disobedience

Portion Summary

The twenty-fifth reading from the Torah and second reading from the book of Leviticus is called Tzav (צו), which means "Command." The name comes from the first word of Leviticus 6:9, where the LORD says to Moses, "Command Aaron and his sons ..." Tzav reiterates the five types of sacrifices introduced in the previous portion but this time discusses the priestly regulations pertaining to them. The last chapter of the reading describes the seven-day ordination of Aaron and his sons as they prepared to enter the holy priesthood.


The strange laws of Leviticus 6 seem to indicate that anyone who touches a grain offering or a sin offering becomes automatically sanctified. "Anyone who touches its flesh will become consecrated" (Leviticus 6:27), the Torah says. What does this mean? It seems strange to imagine that a person could go into the Tabernacle and touch the flour from a grain offering and it would make him holy just like that. Is that what the Torah really means to teach?

These passages do not refer to consecration by means of a casual touch. The sages explain that consecration occurs only when some of the particles of the most holy sacrifice are transferred to the person or object touching them. For example, if a sin offering is cooked in a clay pot, the porous nature of the clay inevitably absorbs some of the meat of the sin offering. As a result the pot takes on the same sanctity as the sin offering itself and cannot be removed from the sanctuary or used for something else. The Torah says it must be broken.

Also the earthenware vessel in which it was boiled shall be broken; and if it was boiled in a bronze vessel, then it shall be scoured and rinsed in water. (Leviticus 6:28)

A bronze vessel, however, is not porous like clay. Therefore, it can be scoured clean and reused for other purposes. Similarly, a garment on which some of the blood of a sin offering is splashed must be cleaned inside the sanctuary before it can be removed. Until the "most holy" blood is removed, the garment takes on the "most holy" status of the sacrifice. These laws are the source of many of the complex and technical rules that regulate a kosher kitchen in Traditional Judaism today.

The law of the clay vessels brings to mind a passage from the Apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul compared believers to jars of clay containing valuable treasure. Though our mortal bodies are perishable and temporary—like a clay jar—the treasure contained within them is immortal: the death and resurrection of Yeshua:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels ... always carrying about in the body the dying of Yeshua, so that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

It is not a perfect analogy, but the law about clay pots used for cooking the sin offering has some similarity. A clay pot used to prepare a sin offering was no longer just an ordinary clay pot. It was something holy, connected with the sin offering. Yeshua can be compared to a sin offering in His death and resurrection. We are like the clay pots that contain this fabulous treasure. The presence of Yeshua within us consecrates forever. Though we still occupy mortal bodies, these are not ordinary clay pots. We are holy because of the holy treasure within us.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Depths of the Torah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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