The Song of Sacrifice (Tzav)


This week’s Torah portion continues to describe the sacrificial service in the Temple. The sages of the Talmud comment that when a person brings an offering, it should not be a perfunctory, superficial ritual, but he should have the intent of offering himself to God. Understandably, this is demanding work. Sacrifice is difficult and uncomfortable. That is why an essential part of the temple service was the music and singing of the Levites. Beautiful music as the background and context for the sacrifice reflects the truth that despite the temporary discomfort, the ultimate pleasure of growth and closeness to God is the goal. Song is God’s way of drawing us closer with love so that the sacrifice is something we want to do, not just something we have to do.

Similarly, when insisting that children sacrifice for others (or do something else that is uncomfortable for them) we can ease the pain associated with that obligation by “singing” it.

Obligations do not need to be dictated with a sour face and a harsh, demanding tone, they can be sung. Singing them with a smile will not detract from the expectation and it will make it easier for our children to follow through.