Parashat Tzav: Midrash
Illustration Credit: Noa Kelner

Midrash מִדְרָשׁ

The Mishnah (Tamid 3:8) talks about some of the activities that happened in the Beit HaMikdash which could be heard all the way in Yeriho (about 18 miles away). One of them was the sound of the מַגְרֵיפָה (magreifah). This was a rake that was used for תְּרוּמַת הַדֶּשֶׁן (terumat ha-deshen), the job of cleaning the ashes from the מִזְבֵּחַ (mizbe’ah, altar) which appears at the beginning of this week’s parashah (Vayikra 6:3-4).
According to Rashi, the magreifah doubled as a musical instrument! So all the way in Yeriho, it wasn’t just the sound of scraping from terumat ha-deshen that could be heard, it was also beautiful music that came out of this magreifah. This is based on the following tradition:
אָמַר רָבָא בַּר שֵׁילָא אָמַר רַב מַתָּנָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל מַגְרֵיפָה הָיְתָה בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ עֲשָׂרָה נְקָבִים הָיוּ בָּהּ כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מוֹצִיא עֲשָׂרָה מִינֵי זֶמֶר נִמְצֵאת כֻּלָּהּ מוֹצִיאָה מֵאָה מִינֵי זֶמֶר.
Rabbah bar Shila said that Rav Mattnah said that Shmuel said: There was a magreifah in the Beit HaMikdash. There were 10 holes in it, and each hole could produce 10 types of song. It turned out that in total it could produce 100 types of song!
  • If a rake designed to take out dust and trash made beautiful music, what is Shmuel trying to tell us about the everyday—and dirty!—tasks of the Beit HaMikdash?
  • What are some chores or acts of kindness that might be very dirty, but also very important and beautiful for what they accomplish? What kinds of tasks can you do—even dirty ones!—that can produce “music” for our lives?
  • Ashes are created by fire as it destroys something. We usually don’t think of destroyed things as having much use or hope. But this gemara is suggesting that the ashes in the Beit HaMikdash could still be used for 100 types of song! What can this teach us about situations that look like they’re already lost or hopeless in our lives?