With Clean Hands
This week’s Parashah begins by describing the burnt offering, while the end of the previous Parashah described the guilt offering which a person must bring to atone for having denied that he stole. The most important condition upon which all the sacrifices depend, is hinted at in the juxtaposition between Parashat Vayikra and Parashat Tzav. The end of Parashat Vayikra proclaims, “Then it shall be, because he has sinned, and incurred guilt, that he shall restore that which he took violently away…” (Vayikra 5:23). Parashat Tzav begins, “and this is the law of the burnt offering” (Vayikra 6:2). The connection between the two sections teaches us that if you desire to bring an offering, do not steal anything from anyone. “For I, Hashem love justice. I hate robbery with burnt offerings” (Yesha’yahu 61:8). “When will I accept the burnt offering which you bring? When you have cleaned your hands from robbery, as King David states, “Who shall ascend unto the mountain of G-d and who shall stand in his holy place? [He that has] clean hands and a pure heart” (Midrash Tanchuma, Tzav 1 quoting Tehillim 24:3-4). This teaches us that honesty in monetary matters is an absolute condition for offering any sacrifice in the sanctuary. Our worship of G-d for all generations is defined by this lesson, even when we do not have a sanctuary. There can be neither sacrifice nor any kind of closeness to G-d, except when the deeds of our mundane life are purified from the smallest tinge of harming our neighbor. One cannot separate the two. Bringing up a sacrifice without adhering to upright and honest behavior is the kind of rite against which the prophets of Israel fought an eternal battle.