Kenneth Cohen


It is interesting that Parshat Tzav often coincides with Shabbat Hagadol. By this time, we are heavily involved with our Pesach preparations, which can seem to be overwhelming.

Although Parshat Tzav continues to deal with the sacrifices, there is a clear message, to be learned. The Rabbis explain that although the word, “Tzav,” means, to command, it is also a language of alacrity. We are to fulfill the Mitzvot with enthusiasm and excitement.

The term in Hebrew for such alacrity, is זריזות. It is not enough to merely observe the commandments, but they need to be observed excitedly. And here lies the coincidence related to Pesach preparations. Regardless of how one gets ready for the coming holiday, there is a strong aspect of physical and even tedious labor. There is the cleaning, cooking and shopping. And there is also the process of “kashering” our pots, pans, and utensils. All of this is physical labor.

We are to remember the Mitzva aspect of what we are doing. We are fulfilling the command to remove Chametz from our home. The Chametz represents haughtiness and arrogance. For the duration of the Chag, it is to be substituted with Matza, the unleavened bread, symbolizing humility and modesty.

Perhaps the reason why Parshat Tzav falls before Pesach, is to place a further request on us. The work we are doing can be exhausting, and the clock is ticking closer to Seder night. These preparations can become even more meaningful if done with enthusiasm and זריזות. The reward will be greater and the Seder and holiday, will be all the more enjoyable and meaningful.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at