Weekly Drash - Tzav 5767
Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
The Thanksgiving Offering
Tzav - צב : “Command”
Thought for the Week:
Psalm 107 describes four different reversals of fortune: those lost on a long journey who find a city, those released from bondage, those who recover from a life threatening sickness and those who survive a violent storm at sea. The Sages mandate that the survivor of one of those scenarios should bring a thanksgiving offering.
Leviticus 7 describes a particular type of peace offering called the todah (תודה), which means ‘thanksgiving.’ The thanksgiving offering differs from the peace offering in that it must be eaten on the same day it is sacrificed. All other peace offerings must be eaten within two days, but the Thanksgiving offering is only allowed a single day.
The Torah also prescribes extra measures of bread to accompany the thanksgiving offering. The mandate to eat the thanksgiving offering on the day it is offered is intended to generate a large, festive meal around this particular sacrifice. In order for the entire animal and all the breads to be eaten in one day, the offerer is required to host a large banquet. Family and friends would be recruited to participate in the mitzvah of the thanksgiving offering.
Of course, once the assembled company was seated and ready to share in the sacrificial meats of the thanksgiving offering, they would inquire about the occasion. The host would then offer his testimony explaining why he had chosen to make a thanksgiving offering. Thus the ritual requirement of a large feast functions to proclaim the glory of the LORD.
Anyone could bring a thanksgiving offering at anytime. One who had survived a sickness or seen a remarkable answer to prayer would be inclined to bring a thanksgiving offering to the LORD. An abundant harvest, a favorable verdict, the birth of a child and numerous other happy events might occasion a thanksgiving offering.
From the laws of the thanksgiving offering we learn the principal of proclaiming the LORD’s goodness. When we have special reason to be thankful to the LORD, we should make the effort to express our gratitude. Even though we can no longer bring the sacrifice of the todah, we can still host a festive meal, invite friends and family, and share the LORD’s goodness with them. It is a unique privilege to be able to publicly thank the LORD for His goodness.
A spirit of gratitude is evidenced throughout Paul’s epistles. Over and over again he exhorts his readers to give thanks to God. His salutations always include declarations of this own gratitude. He is always giving thanks and always telling us to do the same. For Paul, prayer was primarily a reflex of gratitude.
Gratitude is probably the most important key to living in happiness and contentment. A gratefully hearted person is grateful in every situation. An ingrate is never happy.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17)
But based upon Psalm 107, the Sages determined that four particular circumstances required a thanksgiving offering. Psalm 107 is a thanksgiving psalm that was probably composed to be sung in the Temple during the slaughter of thanksgiving offerings. It There are several psalms which are designated as psalms of thanksgiving and others that follow the pattern of the genre and were obviously offered as psalms of thanksgiving. The general formula is the same. The psalmist describes his affliction and trouble. Then he describes calling upon the LORD, who in turn answers him. Psalm 30 is a classic example. These psalms of thanksgiving were probably originally composed to accompany someone’s grateful thanksgiving offering. Here are some other examples:
Psalm 100 is explicitly titled “A Psalm for a Todah.” It is a classic thanksgiving psalm obviously created to accompany the offering of the todah. As a daily reminder of the thanksgiving offering, Psalm 100 is recited daily in the morning liturgy. However, because the thanksgiving sacrifice was not offered on Sabbaths (when the meat could not be cooked) or on festivals (when only communal offerings were brought) or on fast days (when the thanksgiving meal could not be eaten) or during the week of Unleavened Bread (when the loaves of leavened bread could not be made or eaten) or on the day before Yom Kippur (because the fast began that night), it is omitted from the morning liturgy on each of those occasions.
A Psalm for Thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100)
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
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