Parshat Tzav: The permanent fire of God’s love

In Tzav the offerings in the Sanctuary are detailed as well as the service of the priests (kohanim): “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying ‘Command (Tzav) Aaron and his sons, saying, “This is the law of the burnt offering: That is the burnt offering which burns on the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall burn with it”.” (Leviticus 6:1-2) and it is also emphasized that the fire in the altar must be lit all the time: “And the fire on the altar shall burn on it; it shall not go out. A continuous fire shall burn upon the altar; it shall not go out.” (6:5-6).

We mentioned that the offerings of “sacrifices” that we bring to our Creator in the Sanctuary represent every trait and quality of the different dimensions of consciousness. These include not just our thoughts, feelings, emotions, passions and instincts, but also our desires and the intentions behind them.

Every aspect of our individual identity must be consecrated to the Creator simply because we are His Creation and He sustains us constantly in the material reality that He created for us. Let’s insist and reiterate that we are here because of His Love, and His Love is our own Essence. Hence, the offerings are the ways we relate and communicate with His Love, and ultimately to become united to Him. The permanent awareness of our connection to Him (represented by Aaron, the High Priest) is our means to achieve this unification.

In a practical sense our offerings make us maintain this awareness all the time. Our Love (the “burning fire”) and God’s Love (the “Heavenly fire”) must be lit together in order to realize that we are His image and likeness. We realize this awareness when we know that God’s Love is always with us, as we praise in our daily prayers’ modim (we thank): “(…) We shall thank You and relate Your praise (evening, morning, and afternoon) for our lives, which are committed to Your power and for our souls that are entrusted to You” because our existence and all existence emanate from Him and are sustained by Him; “for Your miracles that are with us every day, and for Your wonders and favors in every season” and we have to be aware of this (the burning fire) permanently. “The Beneficent One, because Your compassion is never exhausted; and the Compassionate One, because Your loving kindnesses never ended, always have we put our hope in You.”, the always good and kind Love of God that we praise when we guide every dimension of our consciousness with His Love. And let’s be aware that this praise is not just with our words but with our actions.

This thanksgiving prayer is reaffirmed by our Sages: “the God of all flesh, our Molder, the Molder of the universe”, because we are His Creation. Therefore, “Blessings and thanks are due Your great and holy Name because You have given us life and sustained us. So may You continue to give us life and sustain us and gather our exiles to the Courtyards of Your Sanctuary, to observe Your decrees, to do Your will and serve You wholeheartedly.”

Let’s understand that the exiles are not only our fellow Jews who live far from the Promised Land but also the traits and qualities of our consciousness that we have to integrate in the unity that the Tabernacle symbolizes as our permanent connection to God’s Love. His Love empowers us to follow His ways and attributes (His “decrees”) which are the means to serve Him with all our heart.

The permanent awareness of our connection with God (represented by the High Priest) is what blesses us, as it is written: “Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord shine His face to you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His face to you and grant you peace. So shall they put My Name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.’ (Numbers 6:24-27).

These are the blessings of His Love because it is about His Love for us. As we said earlier, this portion relates to our offerings and particularly about the means to elevate our life in order to be unified with the Creator. Our intellect gives us the knowledge of Him through a clear notion of the Truth that sustains the Creation. The intellect and the knowledge that provide for our understanding are represented by Moses, our teacher.

“And Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar, and he sprinkled it on Aaron and on his garments, and on his sons, and on his sons’ garments, and he sanctified Aaron, his garments, his sons and his sons’ garments with him.” (Leviticus 8:30). The oil symbolizes our awareness of God’s Love, and the blood represents the passion with which we live His Love in the material world. Both must be impregnated in our garments that represent every dimension of our consciousness. The portion ends highlighting this fact: “And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Lord commanded through Moses.” (8:36).

The haftarah for this portion reminds us this awareness: “And this thing I commanded them, saying: ‘Hearken to My voice, so that I am your God and you are My people; and walk you in all the ways that I command you, so that it may be well with you’.” (Jeremiah 7:23) which is the main message of the Hebrew Scriptures.

In the knowledge of the Creator and in our connection with His Love we are truly fulfilled in the material world: “Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, neither let the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches; but let him that boast exult in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices living kindness, justice, and righteousness on the Earth; for in these things I delight, says the Lord.” (9:22-23) and these things come from God’s Love.2

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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