July 19, 2024 ~ Shabbat BALAQ. Maqam MAHOUR.

Shabbat Sav - שבת צו

Maqam IRAQ, BAYAT or RAHAW-NAWAH (if HaGadol)


על מוקדה על המזבח כל הלילה עד הבקר - In Leviticus 6:2, we read that the responsibility of maintaining the daily Burnt Offering falls on the priesthood of Aharon and his sons. Historically, in times of peace, these rituals were maintained with little difficulty. However, in times of trouble, the priests faced severe hardships in trying to maintain this commandment. During the siege of Jerusalem, the priests went so far to perform the daily sacrifices that they had to lower baskets full of gold coins from the city walls in order to secure one or two sheep for the daily offering (TB Baba Qama 82). Eventually, when the enemies won, the daily offering was discontinued. In writing verse 6:2, Moses makes a small letter Mem for the word מוקדה (burning). One may suggest that Mem of "burning" is small, because Moses is saddened to foreshadow a time in the future when the Jews will no longer be able to fulfill the daily Burnt Offering due to the destruction of the Temple. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, 3/23/19.


ויזבחו זבחי תודה ויספרו מעשיו ברנה - The Thanksgiving Offering (קרבן תודה), mentioned in Leviticus 7:12, is a type of "peace sacrifice" (שלמים) that one brings in order to express gratitude to the Almighty. This sacrifice is brought (ויזבחו זבחי תודה) when one escapes from serious harm and is then able to share the miraculous story of divine intervention with others (ויספרו מעשיו ברנה). Psalm 107 enumerates four scenarios in which this sacrifice is warranted: surviving (1) חבוש - incarceration, (2) יסורים - illness, (3) ים - a journey via the ocean, (4) מדבר - or through the desert. Today, instead of the Thanksgiving Offering, Jews recite the Gomel blessing (ברכת הגומל) for the above scenarios. In addition, Psalm 107 is traditionally recited each day of the Pesah festival, because it is when we offer thanks to God for His kindness (יודו לה׳ חסדו) by sharing our stories of survival with others (ונפלאותיו לבני אדם). Beth Torah Bulletin, 3/24/18.

Sweet or Sour

כי כל שאר וכל דבש - For the Meal Offering, Hames (חמץ), or leaven, is restricted on the altar, "because all yeast (sour) and all honey (sweet) are not to be consumed for God" (Leviticus 2:11). Hames is unacceptable, because a fermented food represents something corrupt and artificial. A sour or sweet substance may enhance a food's taste, but in reality, it masks the true flavor. The message here is that God wants us to approach Him in an authentic manner. Behaving artificially is never acceptable when you approach the Almighty. For this reason, instead of Hames, the priests only eat Massot, unleavened bread, in the holy areas. For a similar reason, on the Pesah festival, the time of year when our nation is reborn, we eat Massa, unleavened bread, and are prohibited from eating Hames. This is in order to return to a more basic and natural state of existence; away from the all toxic elements of the world (Beth Torah, 4/8/17).

Removing Trash

והוציא את הדשן - After the Qorban Olah is consumed, Leviticus 6:4 instructs the Kohen to remove the ashes left over and dispose outside the camp. Why must the Kohen, a highly distinguished individual, bend down and remove the ashes from the sacrifice? Can't he delegate this to someone else? Contemplating an answer to this question, I am reminded of my childhood on East Third Street. My neighbor was Hakham Shaul, or Rabbi Saul J Kassin, the Chief Rabbi of our community. Throughout my youth, I would see him, a distinguished man in his eighties, doing menial tasks such as shoveling snow, raking leaves, taking out trash, and grocery shopping. He did everything himself and did not delegate these tasks to others. For this, I always had high respect and admiration for him. In a way, this is similar to the Kohen. In regards to removing the ashes, it is a reminder to the Kohen that even though he has a high status, he still has to take care of routine tasks, such as removing the trash, and this is not beneath his dignity. Beth Torah Bulletin, April 4, 2020.

Maqam of the Week: RAHAWI NAWAH

On Shabbat Hagadol, which is the Shabbat before Pesah, the morning prayers are conducted in Maqam RAHAW (NAWAH) according to all Syrian sources. The usage of Maqam RAHAW is associated with this Shabbat, because it is the maqam applied for the Haggadah shel Pesah. HAZZANUT: Semehim: Emunim Irkhu Shebah (page 359); pizmon associated with the Seder of Pesah. PIZMON SEFER TORAH: Mi Yemallel (page 361). HAFTARA: According to Aleppo custom, the regular Haftara of Shabbat Sav is read. Sephardic Pizmonim Project, www.pizmonim.com.