The portion of Tzav is about the work of the priests in processing the sacrifices brought to the Holy Tabernacle. The Torah gives specific details on how to handle the blood of the animals. In this article we’ll focus on the connection of blood and life.
“כָּל-נֶפֶשׁ, אֲשֶׁר-תֹּאכַל כָּל-דָּם–וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא, מֵעַמֶּיהָ”
“Every soul that eat any blood, that soul shall be cut off from his people”
This warning appears four times in the parasha. What does it mean?
When the Torah talks about death it is almost never about termination of life as we know it. The first time we read about a warning of death as a result of an action is in Genesis 2:17, where God tells Adam and Eve “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.””
We know that Adam did not die and in fact he lived 930 years. The death that the Torah is talking about is a spiritual “cut off”, a disconnection from the root of the Tree of Life. The word “מֵעַמֶּיהָ” “from his people” can be read as two words “מֵעַמֶּ יהָ” , “from YH”, where YH יה (Chokmah and Binah) represent the ‘Life’ of the Tree of Life.
Kabbalah teaches us that there are five levels to the soul (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshamah, Chaya and Yechida). The level that carries and sustains life in our body is ‘Nefesh’. As long as the blood circulates in the body, the body lives.
“רַק חֲזַק, לְבִלְתִּי אֲכֹל הַדָּם, כִּי הַדָּם, הוּא הַנָּפֶשׁ; וְלֹא-תֹאכַל הַנֶּפֶשׁ, עִם-הַבָּשָׂר”
“Only be steadfast in not eating the blood; for the blood is the soul (Nefesh, life); and you shall not eat the soul (Nefesh, life) with the flesh.”
The actions of a person affect the blood. The purpose of the sacrifices is to cleanse the blood by bringing the animal to the priest to be slaughtered and burned on the altar. The priest follows a specific process to remove the impurity from a person. The way the blood is handled is very important in the process. The Zohar explains that the evil inclination spirit burns in a person like fire and only the priest can remove the spirit of impurity from the person with fire because the priest is the aspect of the right column.
The fire on the Altar should stay on at all the times in order to keep all the impure spirits away.
“אֵשׁ, תָּמִיד תּוּקַד עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ–לֹא תִכְבֶּה”
“Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out.”
esh, tamid tukad al-hammizbeach–lo tichbeh
אֵשׁ esh, תָּמִיד tamid תּוּקַד tukad עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ–לֹא al-hammizbeach–lo תִכְבֶּה tichbeh
Repeating this verse multiple times will help to overcome and stop the evil inclination from invading a person’s thoughts.
The Torah forbids us from eating the flesh with the blood because as explained above the animal’s soul is in the blood, and if eaten we connect to that energy. Those who eat the flesh with the blood contaminate their souls and cause a disconnection of their own souls from the pure root of the Tree of Life.
The sacrifices and the processing of blood by the priest cleanse us. Since the destruction of the Holy Temple we have only one opportunity to do so and it is on the day before Yom Kippur.
We should never consume blood. Kosher meat means that the animal was slaughtered properly to release its soul and the blood was completely drained before cooking and consumption. Unfortunately nowadays it is rare to find a true kosher meat even if the seal and the packaging say so. Kosher chicken meat has less risk of holding blood and it’s ‘safer’.