Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Tzav (Leviticus 6-8)
6:3 And the priest shall dress up into his fitted linen robe and he shall wear linen breeches on his flesh. And he shall lift up (some of) the ashes of what the fire consumed of the olah offering (that was) on the altar. And he shall place it (on the floor) by the altar.
6:4 And he shall remove his clothing (that he wore when he lifted up and moved the ceremonial shovel of ashes) and he shall dress up in other clothing. And he shall take the ashes outside …
Although the Torah states that the priest should change his clothing when he takes the ashes outside, Rashi says he is actually not required to do so. This is unusual. Rashi continues to say that the Torah is telling us that it’s ‘Derech Eretz’ to do this because he may soil the ceremonial clothing he was wearing. ‘Derech Eretz’ is a behavior that is fitting for earthly beings to do. ‘Derech Eretz’ means the way of earthly beings. Rashi connects the suggestion that the priest change his clothes to ‘Derech Eretz.’ He says that the clothing a person wears when he cooks for his master should not be the same set of clothes that he wears when he serves his master.
The Medrash says that the second set of clothing should be of lesser quality.
The ceremonial shovel of ashes is performed by a single priest. After he does this, other priests ascend the altar and pile up the rest of the ashes into a mound. That task provided ample opportunity for them to soil their clothing. From the Mishna in Tamid it does not appear that they wore special clothing to do this. Rather, they wore their normal ceremonial clothing when they worked with the ashes.
It reasonable that there should not be a problem when an official soils his clothing in the presence of his king if this occurs as part of his work. Yet, the Torah makes it a point to suggest that the first priest change his clothing before taking the ashes outside because this is ‘Derech Eretz.’
The Jewish people are privileged to build, maintain, and host the temple. The temple itself is described in earthly terms as a place where G-D resides, so to speak.
The raising of the ashes is the very first service of the day. It is fascinating that this service conveys a message to the world and to those that host the temple that ‘Derech Eretz,’ the way of earthly beings, is very significant to G-D.
That is ‘Derech Eretz’ taken to another level.