Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Feast for a Priest - Parshat Tzav

We're onto the second portion, Parshat Tzav, in the second book of the Torah - Leviticus (or Vayikra). The portion starts off with a listing of several different "korbanot" Hebrew for offerings/sacrifices. Each is brought by a member of the nation of Israel, upon a different life occasion to the Temple, where the priest offers it on their behalf. The occasions include: a sin offering, a guilt offering, an offering of thanksgiving, and a just because offering. 

It's certainly hard for us modern readers to relate to Temple offerings, but seeing this list of times in one's life when you might be driven to bring an offering could resemble a list of times in your life when you might bring someone a bouquet of flowers (I heard this idea from my teacher Alex Israel) - you send roses to tell someone you love them, bring a colorful bouquet to someone in the hospital to wish them well, or patch up a relationship misstep. These gifts are all symbolic gestures that express emotions you are feeling, and in Temple times, sacrificial offerings served the same purpose.

They also serve a more practical purpose - the leftovers feed the Priests who work in the Temple. A system is set up for Aron and his sons, and all priests who come after them, whereby they eat the leftovers that don't get burnt during the process of offering to God. Three of the offerings have a special system set up - the Cohen (priest) that helps an individual bring a guilt offering, a burnt offering or a baked meal offering gets to eat the leftovers from that one all to himself (in the case of the burnt offering he just gets to keep the skin). With all the other offerings - including the bread, oil and wine that accompany many of the sacrifices - they get divided up among all of the priests serving in the Temple at any given time. It's a sound system.

The way that the meat of all the offerings was cooked was by fire on the altar, which is  kept burning continuously. Every morning the Cohen dresses in his linen garments and gathers the ashes that the burnt offerings have been reduced to and places them beside the altar, he then changes his clothes to a clean outfit in order to carry the ashes outside of the camp to a clean place. 

While you may not want to keep your stove on all the time or change into clean clothes just for cooking - you too can enjoy amazing meat. I want to share some of the meat I have been cooking lately for Grow and Behold and invite you to pop over there for some great recipes like London Broil with Avocado Relish or Porter Pomegranate Roast or Root Beer Flanken (if these make your mouth water, think about using the Double Portion reader discount on their site for a Passover order - "DBLP5" for 5% off an order over $50 and "DBLP10" for 10% off over $100).

Happy meat cooking and eating and almost happy Passover!


Perhaps you can find a way to adapt this Baby Moses woven squash basket tart for Passover - I just might try.
Also check out the full Recipe Index for plenty of Passover friendly salads, sides and main dishes!

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