Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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Parashat Tzav: One hand for education and direction, two hands for elevation and connection

Our Portion of the Week, Tzav, deals with instructions specific to the Priests concerning offerings. The gematriah of the word Tzav is 96. Which equals 5 + 91. Five stands for five fingers, a hand and 91 is the gematriah of Amen, meaning I agree. When it comes to bringing an offer, getting closer to G^d, and prayer, the second hand needs to agree to work in tandem with the first. (Furthermore, Amen is the acronym of Keil Melech Ne’eman, G^d is our faithful King. Offers need to be dedicated to Him.)

But we use one hand when we give directions to someone, mean to tell people what to do, try to educate them.

One and Two

This distinction is everywhere in the Torah. I find that most important in the ‘sacrificing of Isaac.’ Abraham stretches out his hand to get to the knife (Genesis 22:10). He’s going slow to let G^d interfere. He knows that he would not kill his son. He just told him: G^d will provide the sacrifice (Genesis 22:8). He was making G^d hurry. The Torah mentions one hand (Genesis 22:12). This is not to deny that to slaughter may always be with one hand but here it specifically mentions it. So, this episode is for education and to say what he wants, not for elevation. But, when the ram appeared, he took it by both horns (Genesis 22:13). How can this be done? Only by both hands. That was an offering, to bring us closer to G^d.

When Moses wanted to lower the Plague of Darkness over Egypt (Exodus 10:22), he lifted his hand — singular. But when he prayed to G^d to remove the Plague of Hail (Exodus 9:33), he threw up both hands.

When we needed G^d’s help to succeed in battle, Moses first lifted one arm (Exodus 17:11) to teach the Children of Israel from where our strength comes. And then, he raised both hands, in prayer (Exodus 17:12).

When Eliezer wanted to commit to his task, he put one hand on Abraham’s loins (Genesis 24:9). But when he put bracelets on her arms (Genesis 24:22, 24:30, 24:47), he consecrated her. These were not free gifts and it was more than asking her to follow him — otherwise, it would have only mentioned one arm. She was still asked to agree (Genesis 24:58), though.

The procedure of the suspected wayward wife is to elevate the couple to unity. So it mentions that she’s holding with both hands the offering. But the Priest is holding the bitter waters in one hand (Numbers 5:18) because he is there to educate her (Numbers 5:19-22). He will take the offering from her hand (Numbers 5:25) — singular — she has now been informed.

Two — Elevating and Getting Closer

So, with consecrating animal sacrifices, both hands would lean on their heads (Leviticus 1:4, 8:14, 8:22, 16:21).

Moses took the Stone Tables with two hands (Exodus 32:15, Deuteronomy 9:17) to elevate us. When he saw the scene around the Golden Calf, he threw them down with both hands (Exodus 32:19, Deuteronomy 9:17) because it did not appear to be the time — apparently not to educate us.

But the hands are Esau’s hands (Genesis 27:22-27:23). They’re not just dissimilar in will or ability from Jacob but on a totally different moral level.

When Jacob blesses Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:13-14, 17-18), he uses both hands at the same time. The Priests use two hands when the bless the congregants (Leviticus 9:22). When parents bless their children, they sometimes have the custom to use one hand when they’re not Cohen out of modesty, but the principle stays that the ideal way is with two hands. This is for elevating the blessed, not for telling them what to do.

When Isaac and Jacob dug wells, they must have used both hands. This was not to educate or force their will but to elevate the Land to be fit for habitation.

One — Telling You What to Do

We should not have a chance to stretch out our hand to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22). You can want it but I’m letting you get it.

When G^d took us out of Egypt, He did that with a strong hand (Exodus 13:16, 15:6), directing us. The phylacteries on our hand are to teach (remind) us of that (Exodus 13:16). Making us holy would come later, at Mount Sinai.

When G^d wanted to educate Moses, He shows it at his hand (Exodus 4:2-7).

The Angels took Lot inside with their hand (Genesis 19:10). When the Angels left Sodom to rescue Lot, his wife and two daughters, they took each by the hand (Genesis 19:16).

And when Joseph escaped his master’s wife, she showed his garment in her hand (Genesis 29:12-13).

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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