The twenty-fifth reading from the Torah and second reading from the book of Leviticus is called Tzav (צו), which means “Command.” The name comes from the first word of Leviticus 6:9, where the LORD says to Moses, “Command Aaron and his sons …” Tzav reiterates the five types of sacrifices introduced in the previous portion but this time discusses the priestly regulations pertaining to them. The last chapter of the reading describes the seven-day ordination of Aaron and his sons as they prepared to enter the holy priesthood.
In my search for a short video to share I came across this recently written article by Michael Berg on this week’s portion. Michael is an exceptional teacher. He tends to be repetitive but repetition is a key characteristic of a good teaching……Here is is:
In the beginning of the portion Tzav, the Creator says to Moses, “Speak to your brother Aaron, and speak of the sacrifice in the morning and in the afternoon.” This is during the time of the Tabernacle. And the Meor Einayim says, talking about the sacrifice and the altar, the fire needed to be sustained in the altar all the time and should never be put out. Therefore, what is the secret of this verse?
He says we know that when the world was created, the totality of the Light of the Creator was revealed. At that time, Adam, who was able to connect to this Light, was able to see everything. He was able to see the past, into the future, and have clarity about the present. Adam, when he connected to this Light, was able to see all of eternity. But then after Adam acted with his Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, the Light became concealed.
What happened to that Light? Rav Ashlag speaks about it in the introduction to The Ten Luminous Emanations. It says, “The Light was clothed.” Concealment doesn’t mean that the Light is removed; it just means that we can’t see the Light beyond Its clothing unless we are able to penetrate that clothing. And that Light was concealed within the wisdom of the Torah, within the secrets of Kabbalah. Therefore, the purpose of study, truly, is to be able to access that Concealed Light.
The great sage Rav Meir says the secret of this understanding is that the purpose of study is not wisdom or information, but to penetrate the clothing and access this Concealed Light, what’s called the Or HaGanuz. This was the purpose of Rav Meir and all the true great kabbalists: to access the Concealed Light that exists within the Torah, within the secrets of the study of Kabbalah, the secrets of this world. And the purpose of any true kabbalist, as was the purpose of Rav Meir, was not to teach, not to give wisdom, not to give information, but to give people the access to connect to the Or HaGanuz, the Concealed Light. Because if a person has access to the Concealed Light, he has clarity about today, and also a vision into the future.
That, he says, is the secret of this Shabbat, the secret of this week. And the kabbalist Meor Einayim is saying that it’s not referring to a sacrifice going up; rather, this is the teaching or study that is meant to elevate a person into the Or HaGanuz, the Concealed Light. Because through true study, the individual becomes elevated, but only if his purpose in studying is to access this Concealed Light. If a person is studying
just to gain wisdom or to gain understanding, but doesn’t have uppermost in his or her desire that the singular purpose why he is studying is to be able to access this Or HaGanuz, this Concealed Light, then he’ll never access it.
A person can become wise and gain information and wisdom. But if the single purpose for which he or she is studying is not to be able to access that Concealed Light, then he will never be able to access it. Because if a person merits connecting through his study to the Concealed Light within the wisdom, then he is meant to come to an elevation where he can see into the future. If a person’s purpose is not to be able to connect to that Concealed Light, so that he can access the future, then there really isn’t a true purpose to his study.
And we really have to be gauging ourselves in our study. Are we able to see, maybe not into a year from now, but into ten minutes or half a year from now? Can we begin to really appreciate seeing into the future? Because that’s the purpose of the study. If we’re studying in a true way, if we’re studying with a true desire, it gives us access into this Concealed Light. And if we have access into the Concealed Light, we get to see into the future. However, there is a great danger in gaining wisdom, understanding, or information. We think that’s all it’s about, but Moses asks us if we are making the purpose and focus of our study to be able to see into the future. Because if a person is truly studying, if a person is truly connecting not to the surface knowledge, but to the Light that is within that knowledge, then he must be gaining access into seeing the future. This is why Rav Shimon Bar Yochai in the Zohar was able to give teachings over that would only be revealed by sages many generations later.
So, the most important understanding from all this is that the purpose of our study is to gain access into the Or HaGanuz, the Concealed Light, and through that, have the ability to see into the future. And when we access into the true level called the Concealed Light, time, space, and motion no longer exist as barriers. Rashi, the great kabbalist and commentator, says that people need to be awakened to this, especially when there is a lack of a true understanding of why we study and what the purpose of all this study is. If a person truly studies with this desire, with this purpose, and through this study is able to access the true Light that is within it, then there are no more veils or barriers, and a person is able to remove all the veils of the literal Torah, of the literal wisdom, and the Light is revealed completely.
We have to ask ourselves on this Shabbat Tzav if we understand why we’re studying. Do we understand why we’re trying to access this wisdom? Maybe there are other secondary reasons, but the single most important reason why we should be pushing ourselves to study is because we want to access the Concealed Light; we don’t want to become wise, we don’t want to gain information, we don’t want to be able
to teach… we want to be able to access the Concealed Light that is behind this wisdom. If a person does not make that the focus of his study, there is no purpose to the study if the focus and the desire behind it is not to access the Or HaGanuz.
Therefore, this is one of the understandings we want to receive on this Shabbat: a re-focusing of why we study. There is only one real purpose to our study, which is to gain access into the Or HaGanuz. And it’s as simple as that, meaning, every one of us today, tomorrow, when we sit and study, should remind ourselves that if we understand the reason why we’re studying now is because we want to access the Concealed Light within the words we are going to read, then we are given the opportunity to do that. But if we don’t have that consciousness, if we don’t ask for that before we begin to study, we will never gain access to that Concealed Light.
And how do we gauge to see if we are really accessing the Or HaGanuz? If present and future are the same. If we’re gaining the ability to see into the future, that’s the purpose. It’s not the purpose for the righteous souls, it’s our purpose. Again, maybe not all of us will, as we begin to concentrate on this and ask for this, begin to see a year or two years into the future, but we should be able to start feeling at least ten minutes, half an hour, an hour into the future. That’s the purpose; present and future have to become the same to us.
The way to access this is through our study. When we’re studying, we say to ourselves, “Why am I studying now? Not for wisdom, not to solve a problem, but because I know beyond these words there is the Concealed Light. And I ask that through my study, I gain access to that Concealed Light. And by gaining access to that Concealed Light, I gain access into the future.” If we have this consciousness, request it, and are consistent with it, we gain access to the Concealed Light, and therefore, access into the future. It is an important understanding and gift we receive on the Shabbat of Tzav.