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Tzav 5770

Tzav (Leviticus 6-8 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! Here is one additional enhancement for the Pesach Seder experience - for you, your family and your guests! My colleague and friend, Rabbi Stephen Baars, created the "Freedom Game" to enable a lively discussion during the Seder Meal. Just give everyone a copy of the list - and keep the explanation at the bottom for yourself to guide the discussion!


Aish HaTorah Washington, DC

Of the following list, who is the most enslaved person and who is the most free?

  1. "Three years ago I was taken by the KGB and put in a labor camp in Siberia, I am told when to get up, when to go to bed and everything between."
  2. "I was ship-wrecked on a desert island. I can do anything I want, but there's nothing to do here."
  3. "I'm a heavy heroin addict. I live my days just to get the next high. Luckily I inherited a large fortune that allows me to support my habit."
  4. "I worked hard all my life to become rich. At the height, I was worth around $25 million. Then came the crash. The bank took everything - my business, my house, even my car. I now work 9-to-5 in a sweatshop, struggling to make ends meet. When I had money, I used to take exotic vacations and dine in the finest restaurants. Life was fun. Now I'm lucky if I can afford takeout."
  5. "In the country I live in, cigarettes are banned. I used to smoke two packs a day. Now I can't get them and I'm very depressed."
  6. "I used to be a top college athlete and was headed for a pro career. Then last year I dove into a pool that was too shallow and broke my neck. I'm now completely paralyzed from my chin down. All I think about all day long is what I used to be able to do.
  7. "Last year I tried to commit suicide but a policeman caught me just before I jumped. I was institutionalized. There's no possibility here for me to do what I really want to do - kill myself."


And when the people at your Seder turn to you after discussing the Freedom Game and ask, "So, nu, what's the answer?" what are you going to tell them? Here are a few thoughts:

Like all good discussions, we start with a definition. "Free" means not having outside control over your actions, thoughts, behavior. There are different levels of freedom: (1) The freedom over physical actions - where you go, what you do. (2) The freedom over what you think about. 3) The freedom to make moral decisions. Deciding whether you are going to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream is not on the same level as deciding whether or not to return a lost wallet.

Perhaps the question of who is the free-est depends on which "playing board" the person is on. Moral decisions are a lot more difficult to make than physical ones. With physical decisions where one is enslaved, there is no choice because of physical restraint. With moral decisions, the "outside force" is one's desires and ability to rationalize.

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of Our Fathers (6 chapters of succinct wisdom found in the back of most siddurim, prayer books) asks, "Who is the mighty person?" and answers, "He who conquers his passions." The free-est person is the one who controls his passions and his desires in order to make moral decisions.



1. A Jewish man was waiting in line to be knighted by the Queen of England. He was supposed to kneel and recite a sentence in Latin. Comes his turn, he kneels, the Queen taps him on the shoulders with the sword ... and in the panic of excitement he forgets the Latin line. Thinking quickly, he recites the only other line he knows in a foreign language which he remembers from the Passover Seder: "Mah nishtana ha-lailah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-leilot." The puzzled Queen turns to her adviser and asks, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?"

2. The supply of ch'rain (horseradish used by many for bitter herbs at the Pesach Seder) being off-loaded at the Madrid airport was stopped by a freight handlers strike. It seems that the ch'rain in Spain stayed mainly on the plane...


For more on "Passover" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week

This week's Torah portion includes the laws of: the Burnt Offering, Meal Offering, High Priest's Offering, Sin Offerings, Guilt Offerings and Peace Offerings. It concludes with the portions of the Peace Offerings which are allotted to the Priests and the installation ceremony of the Priest for serving in the Sanctuary.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And Aharon and his sons did all the things which the Almighty commanded through Moshe" (Leviticus 8:36).

Why does the Torah tell us this? In truth, it would be unusual if they didn't do what the Almighty commanded; if they didn't, then the Torah would have told us!

Rashi comments that this verse praises Aharon and his sons for "not turning to the right or left." How does this help our understanding of the verse? What is Rashi elucidating from the verse?

The Ksav Sofer writes that there are some people who are inwardly very conceited, but outwardly try to act as if they were humble. Therefore, when they receive some honor they shrug their shoulders to the right and to the left to give others the impression that they are so humble that they do not feel that they deserve the honor bestowed upon them. However, in their hearts they are really very arrogant. This can be one understanding of Rashi's words: "they did not turn (their shoulders) right or left." While inwardly they were truly humble they did not try to give others the impression that they were humble.

True humility is a knowledge of your capabilities, intelligence and accomplishments - and an appreciation that ultimately they are all a gift from the Almighty.


(or go to

Jerusalem 6:20
Guatemala 5:56 - Hong Kong 6:18 - Honolulu 6:26
J'Burg 5:57 - London 6:05 - Los Angeles 6:51
Melbourne 7:06 - Mexico City 6:31 - Miami 7:16
New York 6:56 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 7:18


Freedom is actually a bigger game than power.
Power is about what you can control.
Freedom is about what you can unleash.
--  Harriet Rubin


With Deep Appreciation to

Dr. and Mrs. Shahin Sadik

Los Angeles


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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