1. This Shabbos comprises several aspects. It is Shabbos, which is “sanctified of itself,” without man’s service and present even before Mattan Torah. In addition, there are aspects which stem from Mattan Torah and man’s service: parshas Zachor; parshas Tzav; erev Purim; leap year.

Because each of these aspects are important principles in Torah, it is difficult to establish which takes precedence. Torah says of all matters in Torah that (Devorim Rabbah 6:2) “You shall not sit and weigh the mitzvos of Torah” — and this certainly applies to the above aspects which are general principles in Torah.

Shabbos, as we have said, is “sanctified of itself,” and is certainly an important principle. Parshas Zachor is the only parshah about which all authorities agree that it is a Scriptural obligation to hear it read. Parshas Tzav, Rashi writes (Vayikra 6:2), applies “for the present and for [future] generations.” Purim is eternal, as the Rambam rules (Hilchos Megillah 2:18): “The days of Purim shall not be abolished, as written: ‘These days of Purim shall not pass from the Jews and their remembrance shall not cease from their seed.” Today, erev Purim, especially after midday when the influence of Purim is already present, shares the same status. A leap year reconciles the solar and lunar years, making it a “whole year,” which in spiritual terms corresponds to the perfection of two types of service: new (moon) and permanent (sun).

Although each of the above are important principles in Torah, there must nevertheless be some order of precedence, for it is impossible to talk of everything at once. Moreover, precedence is necessary not just because a person cannot discuss two things at once and therefore must discuss one before the other, but because Torah establishes precedence. We find, for example, that of two things, one of which occurs more frequently than the other, the more frequent occurrence takes precedence. Although both matters may be of equal importance, Torah assigns precedence to that which occurs more frequently. Thus in our case, although all of these aspects are very important, there must be an order of precedence according to Torah.

It should be noted, though, that although by saying one thing has precedence it implies that the other is inferior, this is not really the case — for it is impossible to say that something in Torah is inferior. Instead, the fact that something follows another is also a distinction. The worth of something can be ascertained by the preparation needed for it: the loftier the preparation, the greater the thing that follows. Thus, in the case of two things, one of which occurs more frequently than the other, although the more frequently occurring matter takes precedence, the fact that the other matter follows it — the former serves as a lofty preparation for the latter — indicates that the latter matter is very great.

An analogy to this is a dwarf standing atop a giant. The dwarf has the advantage that he can see further than the giant; but the superiority of the giant is that he is the basis, and it is through him that the dwarf can see so far. So too in our case: When one thing precedes another, the second thing, which follows the preparation of the first, stands atop the first thing — like a dwarf atop a giant. To be more exact, it is like a giant standing atop another giant, for, as noted above, all the aspects of this Shabbos are important principles. Thus each aspect has an advantage. The advantage of the aspect which follows another is that, since it stands “atop” the former, it reaches a loftier height. The advantage of the first is that it is the foundation, since the advantage of the second is possible only through the first.

It follows, then, that the fact that one aspect of this Shabbos takes precedence over another does not mean that the second aspect is inferior.

The aspect which takes precedence on this Shabbos is parshas Zachor, and the reason for its preeminence will become clear after we have discussed its concept. Last year, when Shabbos parshas Zachor was erev Purim, as this year, we talked of the lessons derived from parshas Zachor; and since it has been printed, there is no need to repeat what we said then. Instead we shall give a concise summary of the points raised last year, and add new details not discussed then. These new details will revolve around elements of this year which were not present last year: That it is Shabbos parshas Tzav, whereas last year parshas Zachor was on Shabbos parshas Tetzaveh; and that this year is a leap year.

First we turn to the lesson derived from parshas Zachor in general. “Zachor” means “Remember,” and the fact that this parshah is called “Zachor,” without any mention of what one must remember, indicates that its theme is the idea of remembrance, regardless of what is to be remembered.

Of course, the obvious reason why this parshah is called just “Zachor” is because this word alone suffices as a sign of which parshah we are talking about, and what is to be remembered — “Remember what Amalek did to you.” Or, in a deeper sense, it is called just “Zachor” because one shouldn’t mention the name “Amalek” unnecessarily. However, since in the final analysis the custom is to call this parshah just “Zachor,” it follows that the principal emphasis is on the theme of remembrance alone. What is that theme?

When a person is told to “Remember,” the first thing that springs to mind to remember is that which is nearest to him — himself, his existence, as the Talmud (Sanhedrin 9b) says: “A person is near to himself.”

A person possesses many things: his soul-powers, his children, his wealth, etc. But the fact that he exists is present before all these things. However, one need not remember his existence, for a person constantly feels that he exists; and “remembrance” applies only to something which is not constantly present. We must therefore conclude that “Remember” refers to the next closest thing to his existence: the purpose and goal of his creation.

Since a person knows that he exists, he realizes that some being must have created him — for nothing can make itself. Jews, especially, who are “believers, the sons of believers,” know that G‑d created them. And since this is so, there must be a purpose to his creation. That purpose is “I was created to serve My Maker.”

“Zachor,” then, is the concept of remembering that a person is created by G‑d, the “true existence,” to serve Him. And this is why parshas Zachor takes precedence over all the other aspects of this Shabbos: For the idea of “I was created to serve my Maker” is the root and foundation of service in general; only after this foundation is in place do the other aspects of this Shabbos, which are particular components in service, follow.

Thus far the theme of “Zachor” as elaborated on last year. There is another aspect to this theme which we did then not talk about. Although “Zachor” refers to remembering that which is closest to a person — that he is created by G‑d to serve Him — nevertheless, in the plain sense of the verse, “Zachor” refers to the obligation to remember what Amalek did to the Jews. Since the plain interpretation of the verse is the basis for the other types of interpretation (allegorical, homiletical, and mystical) — for “a verse never departs from its plain interpretation” — we must conclude that there is a connection between the plain sense of the word “Zachor” — remembering Amalek, and its broader sense — remembering that a person is created by G‑d to serve Him.

But these two things seem to be complete opposites. Amalek represents the attitude of “He knows his Creator and willfully rebels against Him.” How can there be a connection between remembering Amalek and remembering that a person’s existence derives from G‑d and that he must serve Him?

Indeed, the very fact that a Jew must “Remember what Amalek did to you” indicates that he has some type of connection to Amalek. If a Jew were totally removed from Amalek, there would be no need for warning. It is only because there is a connection that Torah must command “Remember what Amalek did to you.” Now, if a Jew were to properly remember that he is created by G‑d solely to serve Him, how could there be a remembrance of Amalek who represents the antithesis of sanctity (willful rebellion against G‑d)?

Further, the obligation to remember Amalek is both a positive and negative commandment (“Remember” and “Do not forget”). Our Sages say (Zohar, I, 170b) that the 248 limbs of a person correspond to the 248 positive commandments, and his 365 sinews correspond to the 365 negative commandments. Thus the remembrance of Amalek is part of a person’s very being!

The paradox will be resolved through understanding another concept. Our Sages say (Mechilta, Yisro 20:8) that the first two of the ten commandments — “I am the L‑rd your G‑d” and “You shall not have other gods before Me” — were said “in one utterance.” These two commandments seem to be opposites: “I am the L‑rd your G‑d” refers to knowledge of the “true existence,” excluding the possibility of any other; “You shall have no other gods” implies there are other gods, but that “You shall have no other gods.” How, then, could these two opposites be said in the “one utterance”?

However, the command “You shall have no other gods” not only is no contradiction to “I am the L‑rd your G‑d,” but in fact complements it.

Man’s service, to be whole, must be performed by his own efforts, making him a “partner with G‑d in creation.” Just as a person, to be a partner, must actually do something for the partnership, so too in the partnership between G‑d and man: man must actually do things in the partnership. To make this possible, G‑d had to create evil, thus allowing free choice to exist. When man chooses to do good, to fight against evil and transform that evil into good, he infuses a new element into creation, and thereby becomes a partner with G‑d.

“I am the L‑rd your G‑d” represents a Jew’s service in holiness, and “You shall not have other gods” represents the battle against evil. Since the battle against evil is an integral part of a Jew’s service, without which a Jew could not become a partner with G‑d in creation, these two commandments were said “in the one utterance.”

In similar fashion, the two elements present in parshas Zachor — remembering that a person is created by G‑d to serve Him, and remembering Amalek — are not contradictory: they complement each other. Service in general is to remember to serve G‑d. For this service to be whole, stemming from man’s efforts, making him a partner with G‑d in creation, evil must be present. The lowest depth in evil is Amalek, who “knows his Creator and willfully rebels against Him.” Amalek serves as the spur to man, that man should prevail over Amalek and thus serve G‑d wholly.

Remembering Amalek is thus part of service, rendering that service man’s and making him a partner in creation. On parshas Zachor, the first remembrance is therefore that a person is created by G‑d to serve Him — service in general. Then comes the particular details of that service: “Remember what Amalek did to you,” through which a person’s service becomes whole.

After the service of remembering (parshas Zachor), which is service in general, other particular aspects of service — the other aspects of this Shabbos (Shabbos, parshas Tzav, erev Purim, leap year) — follow.

Since “deed is paramount” — as emphasized in parshas Zachor, that in addition to remembering what Amalek did there is also the command to “Blot out the memory of Amalek” — all of the above concepts associated with parshas Zachor must be implemented by all Jews in actual deed. Also, one must endeavor that other Jews do likewise, and in such a way that they in turn will inspire others to do so, ad infinitum.

May it be G‑d’s will that very soon we merit to fulfill the mitzvah of obliterating Amalek literally. In the words of our Sages: “Israel was commanded about three mitzvos upon their entrance into the land: to appoint a king for themselves, to cut off the seed of Amalek and to build for themselves the Bais Hamikdosh.” That is, all Jews shall go to our holy land, Moshiach will fully complete the mitzvah of obliterating Amalek, and then immediately afterwards will be the revelation of the third Bais Hamikdosh.


2. The above is the lesson derived from parshas Zachor every year. In addition, there are directives to be learned from the parshah read on Shabbos Zachor this year — parshas Tzav. Last year, which unlike this year was not a leap year, the parshah read on Shabbos Zachor was parshas Tetzaveh.

“Tzav” and “Tetzaveh” both mean “Command.” The difference between the two is that “Tzav” emphasizes the idea of urgency, as Rashi comments (Vayikra 6:2): “‘Tzav’ denotes only ‘urgency’ — for the present and for [future] generations.” That is, “Tzav” stresses the concepts of urgency and eternality (“for generations”).

This difference between the two parshas — that Tzav stresses the element of eternality — is reflected in their respective contents. Parshas Tzav talks of the daily congregational offering offered twice each day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The morning sacrifice began the offerings of the day, and the afternoon sacrifice was the day’s last offering. The conclusion of this passage is (Vayikra 6:6): “A constant fire shall be kept burning on the altar; it shall not be extinguished.” Thus parshas Tzav talks of a constant, eternal matter, present every day, all day.

Parshas Tetzaveh, in contrast, talks of the kindling of the menorah. Although the term “constant” is used to describe this service — “to keep the lamp constantly burning” (Shemos 27:20) — this means only night after night.

The lesson, then, from Shabbos Zachor coinciding with parshas Tzav this year, is that all the above discussed concepts relating to “Remember” must be done in a manner of “urgency — for the present and for [future] generations.” Thus, although the above lesson from “Remember” was spoken of last year, it needs to be repeated time and time again, in an eternal manner. And, of course, when something is repeated at another farbrengen, the words spoken have extra force, especially since a farbrengen is such a lofty occasion.

Another matter which differentiates Shabbos Zachor of this year from last year is that this year is a leap year. We have spoken at previous occasions of the theme of a leap year, which reconciles the solar and lunar years: In man’s spiritual service, the solar year corresponds to durable, unchangeable service (like the sun’s light), while the lunar year corresponds to new service (like the moon’s light which is constantly changing).

Some aspects of service are the same every day, as for example, the recital of Shema and the text of the prayers. Other aspects of service change and are new: Torah study in a manner of constantly seeking new insights; and in prayer itself, although the text remains the same every day, a person’s needs for which he prays changes. The theme of a leap year in spiritual service is to reconcile these two types of service: the element of newness should be introduced into constant, unchanging service; and new service should be durable.

These two aspects of constancy and newness are emphasized on Purim, the theme of which is “they kept what they had already accepted.” This comprises two points: 1) a new acceptance; 2) acceptance of Mattan Torah — something which had been always present.

Likewise, there are aspects to the way Purim is celebrated each year: 1) With the greatest joy, — i.e., every Purim sees a new element of joy, transcending all limits; 2) this newness itself is constant and eternal, as written: “These days of Purim shall not pass from the Jews and their remembrance shall not cease from their seed.” Thus Purim, like a leap year, emphasizes the synthesis of the two aspects of constancy and newness.

The lesson from a leap year is that Purim, which is an eternal matter, must be celebrated each year in a new manner. And when it is celebrated in such a manner, its concepts are repeated each year, as written: “These days shall be remembered and kept” — through the proper remembrance, the days of Purim are reenacted anew.

Simultaneously, this must be done is a constant manner, meaning that this lesson applies not just to this year, but to all years, although they are not leap years.

Because “deed is paramount,” we must increase mightily — in a new manner — in all the matters of Purim, especially the Purim campaign, enabling all our brethren to keep the mitzvos of Purim.

[The Rebbe Shlita here spoke a sichah concerning the name of the Megillah — “Megillas Esther” — and explained how this name describes the greatness of the Jewish woman. The sichah was delivered in connection to the “Week of the Jewish Woman,” which began at Purim. The sichah has been published as a separate essay, titled “Esther — the Jewish Woman.”]


3. Parshas Tzav talks of many of the laws surrounding the offering of sacrifices. Ch. 7, verse 15, states: “The flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering must be eaten on the day it is offered; he shall not leave over any of it until morning.” Rashi, quoting the words, “He shall not leave over any of it until morning,” comments: “But he may eat [it] all night. If so, why did they say [that he may eat it only] ‘until midnight’? In order to keep a man far from transgression.”

Rashi is saying that although Scripture allows a person to eat his thanksgiving peace offering all night until the morning, a decree was passed forbidding a person to eat it after midnight, to make sure that a person should not inadvertently keep eating until after morning.

There are several puzzling points in this comment of Rashi’s. 1) Rashi only comments to resolve a difficulty in the plain meaning of the verse. The verse “The flesh ... of the offering must be eaten on the day it is offered; he shall not leave over any of it until morning,” seems quite clear of itself. What difficulty does Rashi perceive that he wishes to resolve with his comment that a person is really permitted to eat the offering the whole night, but that it was restricted to midnight to prevent transgression?

2) Rashi’s interpretation is directed to a five-year old who has learned only Chumash, and not Mishnah or Gemara. Rashi says, “If so, why did they say ‘until midnight:” Who is the “they,” and where is such a thing said? The verse explicitly says, “He shall not leave over any of it until the morning,” clearly implying that he “may eat [it] all night,” not just “until midnight”!

Some editions of Rashi cite the first mishnah in Berachos as the source for his comment: “All [offerings] that are to be eaten within one day may be lawfully eaten until dawn. If so, why did the Sages say ‘until midnight’? In order to keep a man far from transgression.” Other editions of Rashi cite his source as the Toras Kohanim: “He shall not leave over any of it until morning — But he may eat it all night. If so, why did the sages say ‘until midnight’? To keep [a man] far from transgression.”

As we have noted on previous occasions, citations such as these were not written by Rashi, but added by copyists or publishers of his work.

Although these citations may indeed be Rashi’s source, the five-year old to whom Rashi addresses his commentary has not yet learned the mishnah in Berachos or the Toras Kohanim. How, then, should he know that the sages ordained that one should not eat past midnight? And thus our original question remains: What does Rashi mean by saying “Why did they say ‘until midnight?” — who said this, and where is it said?

3) That a person should not eat of the sacrifice past midnight “in order to keep a man far away from transgression” applies not just to “the flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering” (our verse), but to all sacrifices which must be eaten within one day. For example, the Pesach offering, of which we have already learned that Torah instructs (Shemos 12:10): “Do not leave any of it over until morning.” If Rashi believes that the concept of restricting the eating of the sacrifice until midnight is part of the plain interpretation of the verse (as he seems to believe in our verse), then he should have said so the first time a sacrifice that must be eaten within one day is mentioned in Torah — the Pesach sacrifice.

Wecannot answer that Rashi is of the opinion that the Pesach offering must be eaten no later then midnight Scripturally (and not just because the sages wished to keep a person away from transgression) — and therefore he does not make his comment on the Pesach offering — for then the above question is but strengthened. If he believes that the time for eating is only until midnight Scripturally, then he should certainly say so, for such an opinion contradicts the plain sense of the verse. The verse says explicitly: “Do not leave any of it over until morning” — not until midnight. Thus we must say that the restriction until midnight is a Rabbinic decree. And if so, the original question remains: Why doesn’t he say so on the Pesach offering, instead of waiting until our parshah?

Indeed, it is more important for the five-year old to know it in regard to the Pesach offering than in regard to the “flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering,” for his personal experience tells him it must be so. At the Seder night, he sees that the afikomen is eaten before midnight specifically, and he is told it is because the afikomen is a remembrance of the Pesach offering which was eaten only until midnight. Rashi should therefore explain how this fits in with the verse which says: “You shall not leave any of it over until morning” — i.e., he should explain that it is a Rabbinic enactment to keep people far from transgression. In the case of other offerings, however, the five-year old has neither learned nor experienced that they must be eaten only until midnight.

The Explanation

Rashi’s interpretation is addressed to the five-year old learning Scripture; and in his commentary he therefore will not assume that the five-year old has learned Mishnah or Talmud. It is therefore impossible to say that Rashi’s comment, “If so, why did they say ‘until midnight’? In order to keep a man far from transgression,” refers to an enactment first passed in the times of the Tannaim — for since the five-year old has not yet learned of such an enactment, Rashi, if he were referring to this, would state that it is a Rabbinic enactment:

We thus conclude that the “they” in Rashi’s comment does not refer to the Rabbis of later generations, but to the time when this verse was actually said. That is, when the verse, “The flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering must be eaten on the day it is offered; he should not leave over any of it until the morning,” was said to the Jews, they already said then that in order to keep a person far from transgression, the time of eating should be only until midnight.

Rashi makes this comment on this verse and not earlier, concerning the Pesach offering, because there is an inconsistency in this verse specifically which leads him to draw the conclusion that the time of eating is only until midnight. The verse first tells us when the sacrifice must be eaten — “The flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering must be eaten on the day it is offered”; but then, instead of continuing to say that the deadline for the time of eating is “until morning” (i.e., the verse would then read “The flesh... must be eaten on the day it is offered until morning”), the verse interrupts with a new concept — “he shall not leave over any of it (until morning).”

Rashi learns from this inconsistency that the verse is providing us with another piece of information. There is a time period when the term “eating” no longer applies (since it is already forbidden), but only “leave over.” That is, the period for eating is not “until morning,” but only until midnight (and therefore the verse does not say, “it must be eaten on the day it is offered until morning).” From midnight on, the only command that is applicable is “he shall not leave over any of it” (by finishing eating before midnight).

However, because really one may eat the whole night, and “they said ‘until midnight’ in order to keep a person far away from transgression,” the verse does not explicitly say that one may eat only “until midnight,” but rather only hints at it with the change in term from “eat” to “leave over.”

The concept that although Scripture says explicitly that something is done in a certain way, extra things were nevertheless added (in our case, changing the deadline for eating from dawn until midnight), is not an innovation that first appears in our verse. In parshas Beshallach, which talks of the manna and the instruction that the Jews should not collect it on Shabbos, Scripture states (Shemos 16:29): “Every man shall stay in his place.” Rashi comments on this that “From here the sages found support [for the] four cubits [permitted] to one who goes beyond the [Shabbos] limit [of 2000 cubits beyond the city limits].” In the same verse, on the words, “Let no man go out from his place,” Rashi says, “These are the 2000 cubits of the Shabbos limit. But it is not explicitly stated, because the ‘limits’ are from the words of the Soferim (scribes) and the verse itself is said with regard to the gatherers of the manna.”

When Rashi writes “the sages found support” and “the words of the Soferim,” he is not referring to the sages of later generations, in the times of the Mishnah and Gemara, but to the “sages” and “Soferim” of Moshe’s time — i.e., Moshe’s disciples who derived the above interpretations from these verses.

People are accustomed to think of “sages” and “Soferim” as referring to those of the Mishnah or Gemara, for these people have learned of the idea of “words of Soferim” in the Gemara. However, it must be kept in mind that Rashi wrote his commentary for the five-year old learning Scripture, who has not yet learned of the “words of sages” in the Gemara. When Rashi writes the terms “words of Soferim” in his commentary, he must therefore be referring to the “sages” in the times of Moshe Rabbeinu.

Rashi need not explain what “Soferim” means, for 1) the Ibin Ezra writes that in the plain interpretation of the verse, one need not explain the reason for a name; 2) besides this, in our case the term “Soferim” is self-understood: Since the Torah is called “Sefer” (“Sefer Torah”), those who study Torah are called “Soferim.”

Now, when Moshe’s disciples (the “Soferim”) learned the verse, “Let no man go out from his place,” they had good reason to say that although “the verse itself is said in regard to the gatherers of the manna,” nevertheless, there is also an allusion to “the 2000 cubits of the Shabbos limits.” Had the verse meant only the gatherers of the manna, it should not have said, “Every man shall stay in his place; let no man go out from his place on the seventh day,” but rather, “Let no man go out to gather manna on the seventh day.” The unusual terminology must therefore allude to “the 2000 cubits of the Shabbos limits.”

We thus see that in parshas Beshallach Rashi has explained that the sages and Soferim of Moshe’s time derived laws from Scripture. In our verse, “The flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering must be eaten on the day it is offered; he shall not leave over any of it until morning,” Moshe’s disciples learned from the inconsistency in terminology that although one may really eat the whole night, the verse also hints that one should eat only until midnight “in order to keep a man far from transgression.”

We can draw a distinction between “sages” and “the words of Soferim.” Rashi, in parshas Beshallach, says “the limits are from the words of the Soferim,” whereas in our verse he does not use this terminology, and in some manuscripts the term “sages” is used — “Why did the sages say ‘until midnight.’?”

When a decree is promulgated “in order to keep a person far from transgression,” the “sages” are responsible for such a decree. Because of their sagacity they are able to assess man’s nature, and therefore find it necessary to make a decree to keep a man from sinning. But in regard to deriving a law from Scripture’s terminology unrelated to keeping people from sin, sagacity (i.e. ability to assess character) is not involved. Instead, the study of the Sefer Torah is what counts, and therefore it is the “Soferim” — those who study the “Sefer” — who make such derivations.

In our case, the time for eating the offering was limited until midnight, for it was estimated that a person may otherwise keep eating until morning, when it is forbidden. The “sages” thus enacted a decree limiting eating until midnight “to keep a man far from transgression” — and Rashi (according to some manuscripts) therefore writes “Why did the sages say ‘until midnight’?”

The case of the “2000 cubits of the Shabbos limit,” on the other hand, is unrelated to keeping a person from transgressing Shabbos, for even if a person would go further than 2000 cubits, there would be no transgression involved (in the plain meaning of Scripture). Thus, that there is a 2000 cubit limit is a derivation from the verse — and therefore Rashi says that it is “from the words of the Soferim.” On the same verse, Rashi says that “From here the sages found support [for the] four cubits [permitted] to one who goes beyond the [Shabbos] limit,” for this permission to go four cubits beyond the 2000 cubit limit depends on the assessment of a person’s nature — that a person cannot stay exactly in his place. Rashi therefore uses the terminology “sages.”


4. There is another comment by Rashi in parshas Tzav that demands elucidation. The beginning of the parshah states (6:2): “Command (Tzav) Aharon and his sons.” Rashi, on the words “Command Aharon,” says: “‘Tzav’ denotes only encouragement [and urgency] for the present and for [future] generations. Rabbi Shimon said: Scripture must especially encourage where there is a loss of pocket.”

There are a few puzzling aspects to Rashi’s comment.

1) Why does Rashi say “loss of pocket,” and not “loss of money”?

2) Why is there more “loss of pocket” in this case than in other cases, and to the extent that special encouragement is needed here?

Some commentators point to the fact that this command is referring to the burnt-offering, of which, since it was totally burned on the altar, the priests received no share (unlike other offerings where the priests received certain portions of the offering). The priests therefore had a “loss of pocket” on the burnt-offering, and therefore special encouragement was needed for “Aharon and his sons” when they were commanded about this sacrifice.

However, this explanation is difficult to accept for a number of reasons:

(i) The reason for encouragement in this case, according to these commentaries, is because the priests derive no benefit from a burnt-offering, whereas in others they do. But even in those things where the priests do receive a share, the owners have a “loss of pocket.” Why then is there no encouragement given for other offerings?

(ii) The burnt-offering is first discussed in the beginning of parshas Vayikra, before parshas Tzav. Why is the encouragement given in parshas Tzav and not in parshas Vayikra? Indeed, there is greater reason for encouragement in Vayikra than in Tzav, for parshas Vayikra talks of the burnt-offering brought by an individual, whereas parshas Tzav talks of the burnt-offering of the congregation (the twice daily congregational offerings). And since the individual’s offerings come from his own money, there is obviously greater “loss of pocket” than in the case of the congregational offering.

(iii) How can we say that the Jews would consider the offering of a sacrifice as a “loss of pocket,” necessitating special encouragement, when we have just learned that the Jews brought donations for the building of the Mishkan of their own free will and most generously — a much greater amount than the price of a sacrifice?

The Explanation

The word “Tzav” — “Command,” which Rashi says denotes special encouragement because of the “loss of pocket” involved, refers not just to the burnt-offering in this verse, but is a preface to the whole passage, which deals with the arrangements of the wood-piles upon the altar: “The fire upon the altar shall be kept burning with it; it shall not be extinguished (verse 5)”; “A fire shall be kept continually burning upon the altar; it shall not be extinguished” (verse 6). This passage also deals with the removal of the ashes: “He shall remove the ashes of the burnt-offerings consumed by the fire” (verse 3); “He shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and take out the ashes” (verse 4).

There was a large “loss of pocket” in these services. Rashi, on verse 5, comments: “There are many ‘burnings’ stated here: ‘on its firewood’; ‘and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning’; ‘and the fire upon the altar shall be kept burning’; ‘A fire shall be kept continually burning upon the altar’; these are all explained in tractate Yoma, for our Rabbis differed regarding the number of wood-piles that were there.”

For a fire to be “kept continually burning upon the altar; it shall not be extinguished” — not only when sacrifices were actually offered, but the whole day (“continually”) — wood had to be burned on the altar during the entire day. Also, a special person was needed to take care that a fire should be constantly burning, to put wood on the altar, etc. Also, the ashes needed to be removed, necessitating two sets of clothing.

The amount of wood needed to keep a fire burning on the altar all day, every day, would be very large — and very expensive. This is especially so since wood does not grow in the desert, and particularly since only wood without worms was fit for the altar. Because it was very expensive to keep a fire burning upon the altar, special encouragement was needed.

Now we can understand why Rashi writes “loss of pocket” and not “loss of money.” The former expression emphasizes the great loss involved, for it implies that so much money is spent that a person no longer needs even a “pocket” in which to keep money. It is as if there is a loss of even the “pocket”! “Loss of money,” in contrast, applies if there is a loss of even one coin.

Rashi therefore writes “loss of pocket” to answer an unspoken question the five-year old learning Scripture may ask: There are many things in Judaism which incur costs — such as a tallis koton, tefillin, tuition costs, esrog and lulav, Shabbos needs, etc. Yet, special encouragement is not needed for every mitzvah. Why, then, is it needed in our verse? Rashi’s answer is that a “loss of pocket” is involved here — a sum so large that special encouragement is needed.