Haftaras Tzav

[The regular haftarah for Parashas Tzav is Yirmiyah 7:21-8:3 and 9:22-23. In Yerushalayim, where Shabbos Parashas Tzav this year is Purim, this haftarah is replaced by a re-reading of the haftarah for Parashas Zachor. But in the rest of the world, the regular haftarah is read.] 
Haftaras Tzav begins with the following passage (Yirmiyah 7:21–22):
“Thus said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Add your burnt-offerings to your peace-offerings, and eat [their] meat! For on the day I took your forefathers out of the Land of Egypt, I did not speak with them or issue any command to them concerning burnt-offerings or peace-offerings. Rather, it was only this thing that I commanded them, saying, “Hearken to My voice, so that I will be your God, and you will be My people—and you will follow the entire path that I command you, so that it will be well for you.”’”
The disdain Hashem shows here for offerings is puzzling, for much of the Torah, including the bulk of Sefer Vayikra, is devoted to the laws of offerings. The Maggid offers several explanations.
1. Hashem is telling us that our mitzvah acts please Him only when we do them in order to serve Him. But if we do them only for our own benefit, they are worthless. The Maggid likens a person who does mitzvos just for personal benefit to a building contractor who assembles all the materials listed in the contract specifications but fails to build the building. Individual mitzvah acts, even if done exactly according to the Torah’s specifications, are of value only if they form a ensemble of service to Hashem. Thus, Hashem told Moshe (Shemos 3:12): “For I shall be with you—and this is your sign that I have sent you: When you take the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Serving Hashem is the goal.
2. Hashem is telling us that offerings are only a means of fostering fear of Hashem and readiness to hearken to His voice. If a person comes to the Beis HaMikdash and brings an offering, but this process does not stir him to become more God-fearing, then he has not accomplished anything of value.
3. Hashem accepts offerings to atone for sin on a post-facto basis, but this is not the form of service He desires. Rather, He wants us to perform mitzvos properly and not need to seek atonement. The Maggid brings out the point with a business analogy. A person bought merchandise on credit. Soon before the time he was supposed to pay, house burned down, leaving him penniless. He salvaged whatever possessions he could from the ruins, and offered them as payment. The seller, out of pity, accepted this payment. But it is clear that, if the fellow wanted to buy more merchandise, the seller would not agree to be paid in this form. He accepted the payment in salvaged goods only as a stopgap measure. Similarly, Hashem accepts offerings to atone for sin as a stopgap measure, but He does not wish such offerings to become a routine way of dealing with Him.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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