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Tzav: The beauty of compromise

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A recipe for disaster: that’s what happens when people always insist on getting their way. In Parshat Tzav, the Torah introduces us to the ‘korban olah’, the burnt offering, and this is how the Torah starts the passage (Vayikra 6:2): 

“Zot torat haolah,” – “This is the Torah (law) of the burnt offering.” 

The sefer Vayedaber Moshe teaches a very important lesson from these words.

The term ‘olah’, he says, of course means to go up, and here it can also represent an arrogant person, somebody who is always trying to raise his or her level at the expense of others – people who have an expanded view of themselves. Now, what is the ‘Torah’ of the olah? What is their outlook, what is their mindset? It is all centred on the word ‘zot’ – this. “This is what I want.” “This is what must happen.” They never take no for an answer.

In Parshat Shoftim the Torah famously teaches (Devarim 16:20) 

“Tzedek tzedek tirdof” – “Justice, justice you must pursue.” 

The term ‘tzedek’ of course, like ‘tzodeik’ means to be correct and our sages teach us that the term ‘tzedek’ is repeated in order to tell us that sometimes the correct thing to do is to compromise. When one has the maturity and the responsibility to compromise, then one facilitates peace and harmony. Where there is compromise, everyone’s a winner. And when there’s no compromise, and when everybody strives to achieve their own aspirations without ever giving in to anybody else, there is no basis for a harmonious relationship.

So therefore in the most surprising of contexts, the Torah teaches us an important lesson about human relationships. If you wish to be an olah, always raising your own importance, always striving to get your own way at the expense of others while propelling yourself upwards, ultimately you might just come tumbling down. 

Shabbat shalom.

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