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In Parashat Tetzaveh, we read how Moshe describes the consecration process for Aaron and his sons as they enter into the service of the Lord. The Torah speaks of the laying on of hands upon the head of the animal to be sacrificed. (What is the significance of placing the hand upon the head of the animal?) We are told the blood of the animal is sprinkled upon Aaron and his sons. The Scriptures also say, 29:22 ‘You shall also take the fat from the ram and the fat tail, and the fat that covers the entrails and the lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them and the right thigh (for it is a ram of ordination), 29:23 and one cake of bread and one cake of bread mixed with oil and one wafer from the basket of unleavened bread which is set before the Lord; 29:24 and you shall put all these in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons, and shall wave them as a wave offering before the Lord. (NASB) What is the point and significance of the wave offering? Based upon Bamidbar / Numbers 8:9-11, we are also told that 8:11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD. (NASB) Here we are told Moshe presented the priests as a wave offering. What does that mean and what is the significance of following this procedure? The wave offering is described in the Torah as a symbolic act indicating the offering was for the Lord. Portions of the things offered were literally waved in the air before the Lord. The wave offering is first seen here in Shemot / Exodus 29:19-28 in the description of the ordination ceremony of Aaron and his sons. This is the only instance where part of the wave offering was consumed by fire (see Shemot / Exodus 29:25). The remainder was “waved” to the Lord God Israel but taken by Aaron, his sons, and Moshe as food. Other instances of wave offerings include the breast of a Peace Offering (Shelamim Korban, Vayikra / Leviticus 7:28-34), a lamb from the cleansing sacrifice of a healed leper (Vayikra / Leviticus 14:12), and two loaves of bread with two lambs of the sacrifice affiliated with the Feast of Shavuot (Vayikra / Leviticus 23:15-21). The Torah describes the largest wave offering of all was of an entire tribe and this seems to be by reason of their loyalty during the episode with the golden calf (see Parashat Ki Tisa in Shemot / Exodus 32), God accepted the Levites in the service of His temple in place of the firstborn male of every Israelite family (see Rashi on Bamidbar / Numbers 3:12). A wave offering was a portion of a sacrifice presented to the Lord God, which was then released by the Lord for the use of those involved in the sacrifice where the meat fed the families of the priests. The text today illustrates the Lord’s provision for those who gave (or sacrificed) of themselves in service to Him. How do these things related to us today? The wave offering presented a significant portion of the priestly service before the Lord. These things may be related to our attitudes we need to have on a daily basis in order to be willing to do God’s will. In other words, attitudes that will facilitate a state of openness and readiness to listen, obey, and serve the HaShem. This is part of what the Apostle Paul meant when he spoke of presenting ourselves as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1-3) This is also related to how we surrender ourselves to the Lord on a moment-by-moment basis. From this perspective, the wave offering, as it is related to us today, may be summarized in the following way, (i) to present our bodies as a living sacrifices, (ii) to deny ourselves in relation to our own thoughts, emotions and desires that are contrary to God’s word, (iii) to obey God’s mitzvot, meaning that we get up and put into action what the Lord God has asked us to do, and (iv) to take every thought captive and dealing with those things that are not of faith in our lives. These Scriptures teach us very practical applications to God’s Word in relation to the Sacrifice. We must be willing on a daily basis to allow the Spirit of God to search us and to expose what is not of him. This may be why in the commissioning of Aaron and his sons, there was the laying on of the hands and the blood of the bull, coupled with the sacrifices and the wave offering before the Lord. Note that not only were the sacrifice, the grain, and the oil waved before the Lord, but also the entire life of the priest, and even the entire community (Levites) of the faithful stood as an offering before God. Let’s discuss this further in this week’s Torah portion.

 

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