The haftarah for Tzav is from the book of Jeremiah. It begins with a rebuke to the Jewish people for not doing their sacrifices with sincerity, especially the olah (burnt offering). The prophet also chastises the people for not listening to G‑d or doing what He wants, as if they have lost their faith in Him. It ends with telling us not to be self-centered, but to be focused on understanding G‑d and doing what He wants.1

The connection to our parshah is that Tzav begins with the laws of the olah and continues with the laws of other sacrifices. It ends with the seven days that the Kohanim trained and prepared themselves before the inauguration of the Tabernacle. In describing this process, the Torah repeats over and over again that they did it the way G‑d commanded. In other words, the focus was on G‑d and His will.

The haftarah says, “So says G‑d: ‘The wise man shouldn’t praise himself with his wisdom, and the strong man shouldn’t praise himself with his strength, the wealthy man shouldn’t praise himself with his wealth. Rather, with this he should praise himself, through understanding and knowing Me, that I Am G‑d ... ’ ”2

Why shouldn’t a person be proud of his or her accomplishments?

This is referring to a general attitude. The verse comes in continuation of the earlier verses that talk about being self-centered and not focused on G‑d. When someone is self-centered, when everything is about him, he’s in denial of the fact that everything he has is truly from G‑d. It is akin to denying His existence because he doesn’t leave room for anyone else, not even G‑d.

Through “understanding and knowing” G‑d—meaning, when you recognize that what you have comes directly from Him—you can be proud if you have used your gifts in the way He wants you to. This is the meaning of the words, “with this he should praise himself.”

We see the same idea in Eshet Chayil (“a woman of valor”). The second to last verse says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is for naught; a woman who is G‑d fearing, she shall be praised.”3 Is charm and beauty meaningless? If all she is about is her charm or beauty, then her gifts are a waste and it isn’t praiseworthy. However, “a woman who is G‑d fearing, she shall be praised.” When she is G‑d-fearing, then her charm and beauty have meaning; it makes these attributes real, not superficial, because they come from the inside out.4

When your children or students are gifted with talents or a status such as beauty, charm, smarts, strength, wealth, etc., it is so important to fill them with love and fear of G‑d. They should recognize that these precious gifts are from Him, and that they should use them for what He wants. I have found that the best way to instill this value is not so much by saying it, but by acting that way—by being a living example.

Through being G‑d-centered, we will definitely make G‑d proud, and we will have what to be proud of. It will affect everything we do, bringing positive change to our surroundings, thereby preparing the world for the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

Dedicated to my wife Dina, who has been working so hard to get us all ready for Pesach even though I don’t have the ability to help out much. She is a true Eshet Chayil, beautiful and charming inside and out. It is an honor to be her husband and friend.