What Happened to the Hertz Chumash? | Tzav 5784

There’s an old joke about Daf Yomi, “בא שבת, בא מנוחה,” (When Shabbos comes, rest comes). There is always a lot of enthusiasm for the opening Tractate, Brachos, but once the larger, denser, much more technical Shabbos rolls around, Daf Yomi study tends to drop off. It is time to rest.

I think there is a similar struggle with שנים מקרא, the weekly study of the parsha. There’s always enthusiasm in the beginning—creation, the stories of our avos and imahos (patriarchs and matriarchs), redemption from Egypt, the giving of the Torah, and the establishment of the Mishkan. And then Sefer Vayikra comes around, which primarily deals with sacrifices, and all of a sudden studying the parsha isn’t so easy. Is now the time to rest?

Our parsha opens up with added motivation.

צַו אֶת־אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת־בָּנָיו לֵאמֹר זֹאת תּוֹרַת הָעֹלָה הִוא הָעֹלָה עַל מוֹקְדָה עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כׇּל־הַלַּיְלָה עַד־הַבֹּקֶר וְאֵשׁ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ תּוּקַד בּוֹ׃

Moshe is told to command Ahron and his family of Kohanim the laws related to korban olah, the sacrificial offering that was entirely burnt on the altar.

Rashi explains the need for the added term “צו,” to command Ahron and his family about this sacrifice:

צו את אהרן. אֵין צַו אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן זֵרוּז מִיָּד וּלְדוֹרוֹת; אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, בְּיוֹתֵר צָרִיךְ הַכָּתוּב לְזָרֵז בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ חֶסְרוֹן כִּיס (ספרא):

The word “tzav,” Rashi explains, is meant to urge and motivate this commandment for Ahron, his family, and all future generations. Rashi also adds a comment from Rebbe Shimon explaining that this added urgency was necessary because of the monetary cost of the sacrifices.

It is strange, however, that this urgency is meant for Ahron and all future generations—why do all future generations need this motivation if for much of Jewish history, since the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, we no longer bring sacrifices? How is our generation supposed to interpret this motivation? Is it some much-needed chizzuk (encouragement) to continue learning shnayim mikra Why include such urgency for all future generations regarding a commandment that future generations won’t even be able to fulfill?

And secondly, it seems strange to share the financial concern with Ahron and his family. They were not the ones buying the sacrifices! It didn’t cost the Kohanim anything—it cost whoever brought the sacrifice. So why is this reason being shared now with Ahron and his fellow Kohanim?

To understand this let’s explore some of the controversies surrounding the most popular Chumash of the last generation, the Hertz Chumash.

Read the rest on Substack, and listen to the full shiur above!