Wishing You a Kosher Pesach

animals for sacrifices

animals for sacrifices

Our Torah portion deals with the details of the sacrificial offerings. I am sure that, for many of us, it is a challenge to “relate” to the details of ritual sacrifice which is so far removed from our current reality. One could suggest that our parsha’s significance lies in the future messianic period in which the Temple ritual will be fully restored. But Jewish tradition insists that every word, every letter, even every decorative crown of the letters, has significance and meaning for us all, in every generation, independent of the existence of the Holy Temple.
The word “Midrash” comes from a root meaning “search out” or “demand.” Midrash is not a “bubbe myseh” (Yiddish term for a fairy tale your grandmother might have told you). Midrash is nothing less than the effort to demand meaning from the Torah. The methodology of reading Midrash is a discipline in and of itself and is not for now. Let’s see how the Midrash understands our Torah portion. In fact, an examination of the Midrashic literature reveals a consistent theme winding its way through this week’s Torah reading.
The Torah states, “A man (adam) who shall bring near of you an offering to God.” Midrash Tanchuma comments:
Why does God use the word “adam” for “man” (instead of the more common synonym “ish”)? To teach us that a person cannot offer to God what has not been honestly obtained by him. God is saying: “When you bring an offering to Me, be like Adam the first man, who could not have stolen from anyone, since he was alone in the world.”
The Torah continues with the details of preparing a bird-offering, “And he shall remove its crop with its feathers, and cast it beside the Altar.” Midrash Rabbah comments:
The bird flies about and swoops throughout the world, and eats indiscriminately; it eats food obtained by robbery and by violence. Said God: Since this crop is filled with the proceeds of robbery and violence, let it not be offered on the altar… On the other hand, the domestic animal is reared on the crib of its master and eats neither indiscriminately nor of that obtained by robbery or by violence; for this reason the whole of it is offered up.
What a striking similarity of theme! The Torah demands absolute integrity when it comes to financial dealings.
We are now very much in the Pesach mode. It is a time when the laws of kashrut become more intense and demand quite an effort and focus of intention. It is not surprising that the traditional greeting of this season is, “Chag kasher ve’samayach- Have a kosher and happy Pesach!” Perhaps our Torah portion, read at this time, is reminding us that, just as we make great efforts to assure we have only properly kosher food for Pesach, so too, we must be every bit as careful to assure that we have kosher money, as well- and, of course, not just on Pesach!
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher ve’Samayach.


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