The second Torah portion of Vayikra (Leviticus) is Tzav, meaning “command.” In parsha Tzav, God instructs Moses to command Aaron and his sons regarding their duties and rights as Kohanim (priests) who bring offerings in the Holy Temple.
There is another meaning of the Hebrew word Tzav: “connect.” The 613 laws God gave to the Jewish people establish a connection between us and the Holy One. The way to strengthen this connection is, of course, to follow those laws, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that even a person who disregards God’s instruction has a connection with Him. It’s a negative connection but can be turned toward the positive at any moment.
Imagine a friend gives you a wonderful book on your birthday. Even if you don’t unwrap it, the book still represents a connection between you and the giver. Once you unwrap the package and begin to read, the connection between you and your friend immediately becomes stronger. Our Sages teach that the word Tzav at the beginning of the parsha is meant to encourage us with the message that true connection with our Creator is possible for all of us if we follow the Torah’s commandments.
Image: Group of kohanim studying Talmudic laws in anticipation of the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, photo by Peretz HaKohen