Torah: Tzav

A short Torah teaching: This week’s Torah reading is from Tzav, the second parashah of Leviticus. The word Tzav  in the Bible means command. It is the root of the word mitzvah. In Yiddish, mitzvah (and I hear myself saying the word with a Yiddish accent) conveys “a good deed.” And yet, when we do an act of goodness as a duty, we are more prone to repeat that act than when we are simply moved in the moment. The rabbis of the Talmud emphasized, “Greater is the person who is commanded to do something and proceeds to do it, than the person who is not commanded at all to do something and yet does it” (Kiddushin 31a). Although we are encouraged to act kindly from our heart, we are bidden to act righteously as a duty first. For the person receiving our generosity- whether of funds or respect- the bottom line is how consistently we act.