Parshas Tzav – Giving Thanks
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Tzav, the Torah commands us regarding the korban todah, the thanksgiving offering. The pasuk (verse) says: וּבְשַׂר, זֶבַח תּוֹדַת שְׁלָמָיו–בְּיוֹם קָרְבָּנוֹ, יֵאָכֵל: לֹא-יַנִּיחַ מִמֶּנּוּ, עַד-בֹּקֶר – And the flesh of his feast thanksgiving peace-offering must be eaten on the day of its offering; he shall not leave any of it over till the morning (Vayikra 7:15).
R’ Yitzchak Zilberstein writes, “The korban todah, thanksgiving offering, is in the category of the peace-offerings (shelamim), which may be eaten for two days and the intervening night. Why, then, may a korban todah be eaten only for one day?”
Writes the Ha’Emek Davar – כדי שלא יהיה אלא סעודה אחת ויהיו האנשים מרובים – in order so that it will all be eaten only at one meal, and there will be many people present (Vayikra 7:15).
R’ Zilberstein elaborates and explains:
“The Netziv, in his Ha’Emek Davar commentary to the Torah, offers the following explanation. Because all of the forty loaves brought with the korban todah have to be eaten within a very limited time span, the person who brings the korban todah has no choice but to invite many people to join him at the meal when the korban will be eaten. During this meal, he will explain to them why he is bringing the korban todah, and he will describe the miracles that Hashem performed for him. In this way, many people will learn about Hashem’s greatness” (Aleinu L’Shabei’ach, Vayikra, p.91).
When a great miracle happens, for which we are thankful to Hashem, it behooves us to invite others to join our meal of thanks, to express our thanks to Hashem in the presence of others, and to let our family and friends know about Hashem’s great kindness to us. In this way, we help spread the news of the miracle that was done, and bring awareness of the workings of Hashem to other Jews.
To live with Hashem in our lives is an awareness we must cultivate, and must strive to share with others.
R’ Eliyahu Dershowitz (a nephew of Henny Machlis a’h) relates: “Yocheved’s bas mitzvah (Henny’s daughter) stands out very vividly in my memory. It was like no other bas mitzvah I was ever at in my life. Bas mitzvos where I came from in Brooklyn were a party – music, dancing, and elaborate food. Yocheved’s bas mitzvah was just the family sitting in the dining room. There was only the immediate (Machlis) family, except for Bubby and me, a nephew.
“I remember everybody went around the table and gave a bracha and then Aunt Henny, when it got to her turn to give a bracha, tears started rolling from her eyes. And she started giving Yocheved a bracha, not like what you usually hear, but rather about how you have to live a life of ruchniyus (spirituality) and you have to live a life of avodas Hashem (Divine service). And everybody at the table was crying. That’s when it hit me that there’s something else to life besides what goes on in the physical world. Ruchniyus is what life is all about” (Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup, p.260-261).
When we sit down at the table with our korban todah and our forty loaves of bread, certainly, others will have been invited to join the meal. And at that meal, which must be eaten all at once, we will share our thanks to G-d, our total and complete dependence upon Him, and this will enhance His presence in our lives, and in the lives of others.
Additionally, R’ Zilberstein quotes the Imrei Emes of Ger “who offers a different explanation for why the korban todah may be eaten for only one day. A person brings a korban todah to thank Hashem for a miracle He performed for him. But Hashem performs new miracles every single day, so how can a person celebrate yesterday’s miracle at the expense of thanking Hashem for today’s miracle?” (Aleinu L’Shabei’ach, Vayikra, p.91).
Every single day, Hashem, in His boundless goodness, bestows the greatest gifts upon us: life, health, family, friends, community, the gift of the beauty of nature that fills our world, our homes, food, clothing, parnassah (sustenance), and more than can ever be enumerated. Despite the challenges we all face, the blessings in our lives are many upon many. Even if our mouths were as full of song as the sea is as full of water, and our lips full of praise as the heavens are wide (see the Nishmas prayer recited on Shabbos), we would still not be able to sufficiently thank Hashem for the goodness that abounds in our lives!
Henny Machlis a’h taught, “The Baal Shem tov says that if I daven today the way I davened yesterday, (it’s as if) I didn’t daven. Because Hashem sends me every day a new awareness of who I am… You have to get to a place where you realize that you’re dependent on Hashem for your ruchniyus as well as for your gashmiyus (physicality). I can’t breathe if Hashem doesn’t give me breath. And I can’t work on being (a) better (person) if Hashem doesn’t help me. I have to know that I’m nothing and He is everything. I shouldn’t say, ‘I do chessed and I have children and I am smart and I teach.’ No! Hashem teaches and He has children and He does everything else” (Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup, p.430-431).
Each and every day, nay – each and every moment of our lives – there is a different kindness bestowed upon us! Every day’s prayer must be different than the previous day, and every day’s thanks must be different than the previous day! How can one eat the meal of today’s thanksgiving for tomorrow’s miracles?! Hence, the korban todah must be consumed all in one day.
While we do not have korbanos today, we have many opportunities to thank Hashem for all the good in our lives. Three times a day in Modim, we bow down with gratitude before Him. Let us be sure that we learn the lessons of the korban todah. When a miracle happens for which we give thanks, let us bring an awareness of Hashem’s kindness to others. And each and every day, let us find new miracles – from small to big – for which we give thanks to Hashem, the Source of all good.
בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,