April 3, 2020

Parshat HaShavua – Tzav

Parshat Tzav provides us with several important strategic and tactical concepts – teaching us about “onboarding” new staff, engaging multiple tactical maneuvers, and the need to accept and commit to action. Despite completing the Creative Process building the Ohel Mo’ed – the Tent of Meeting – and the announcement that it was ready as the space where relations were to take place, the Priests were not yet initiated and prepared to take on their tasks. So we return to the Tactical as God maneuvers and brings new forces to engage with the People of Israel.

While the Ohel Mo’ed was complete, it was not yet open for business. The Ohel Mo’ed still needs trained staff. So, like a business about to open teaches new workers the behavior, tasks, goals, and interaction with the customers, Moses must now “onboard” the Priests so the Tent can open for business.

We learn from this Parsha that there is an inherent nature to this onboarding process which is defined by the element of Command. To be clear, we do not mean Command as coercion, but rather the ability to instruct and direct the flow of personal or mutual energy for positive outcomes.

Our Parsha begins with Moses being told to command his brother Aaron and Aaron’s sons. This is the fundamental difference between this week’s Parsha and Parshat Vayikra last week. Here Moses is not talking to the people and declaring the completion of the Creative Process – bringing them into the relationship.

Instead, Moses is speaking directly to the Priests, commanding them to a specific set of actions – starting with a directive on the necessary procedures to clean the Altar and remove the ashes from the previous day and night.

Interestingly, this Parsha helps teach us about two important parts of the concept “Command.” The first is the ability to give clear instructions or orders. While Moses seems to be repeating himself about several sacrifices, he is, in reality specifically instructing the Priest and delineating the nature and tasks to be undertaken in relation to the offerings.

Which is what we see in Parshat Tzav. We begin this Parsha with Moses being told to command Aaron and Aaron’s sons to clean and prepare the altar for the coming day. Just like US Navy Admiral William McRaven noted in his now-famous speech – start every day accomplishing something and make your bed. Don’t just throw the covers over the bed, though. Really commit. Make it every morning and do it right.

But what does it mean to “do it right?” In the military, the soldiers are given specific instructions about how to make their beds. They are told exactly how to fold or tuck in each corner. How to fold their blankets and sheets. And what they need to wear when their commander comes in to inspect their work.

Instruction is, thus, integral to the function of Command. Like a child who needs to be taught how to clean his room, we might argue that the apparent repetition in this week’s Parsha is Moses training the Priests and raising their competence level. He adds important details to the previous instructions and upgrades the level of educational depth.

We might be able to use the Situational Leadership model by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey to describe this process. Blanchard and Hersey suggest that the need for leadership’s intervention changes as the follower’s developmental level advances. The underlying concept suggests different levels of Command based on the developmental stage of the followers. As a follower demonstrates greater competency and commitment, the leader is able to relinquish control and eventually delegate with little-to-no further intervention.

So, followers need to develop new skills and commit to a given task. Once that happens, and the leader sees an increase in their commitment and skills, then the leader can intervene less and take a more “hands-off” approach in his relationship with the follower. So, a combination that teaches the necessary skills and helps build commitment is integral to effective Command. Using this method can lead to the highest levels of exemplary followership.

So, fundamental to Command is the ability to instruct and to direct oneself and others in a concerted effort to maintain the desired level of commitment to activity over time. Interestingly, the Command opening this week’s Parsha addresses this issue directly. The Priests are instructed to undertake daily activities and maintain a level of purity in their actions. This directive includes all the actions and important points to make sure they know exactly what is expected of them.

Ultimately, what we do time after time speaks to our commitment to a specific course of action or behavior.

Which leads to the second function of Command. The ability to orchestrate events to establish superior strategic positioning. In the military, this means establishing tactical advantage by holding the high ground or explicit gravitational points that will dictate the flow of a battle. In business, this is the ability to maneuver and create new markets, disrupt and engage vulnerabilities in existing markets, and to increase market share.

Command allows us to influence and maneuver ourselves and others, enhance our strategic positioning, and bring about the future we want to create.

This aspect of Command requires everyone involved to work towards a mutually desired future state. Each person has a specific task. And each group works to achieve its tactical goals as part of the overall Operative objective and Strategic undertaking.

Such is the case with the Priests. They receive directives delineating each role. The High Priest is given specific goals and tasks. Some Priests were to deal with sin offerings, other with the Olah offering. So, the Priests were given different tasks with specific goals.

And there is an expectation that each individual will undertake consistent, clearly defined, specific action towards the future relations between the People of Israel and God. While different people have different tasks, the purpose of each action is successful strategic relations.

But in order to achieve successful strategic relations over time requires more than the creation of a place to meet. , Command allows us to maneuver in the Tactical and effectively engage with others at the Techo-Tactical.

So, in addition to the need for Command as instruction and strategic positioning, Parshat Tzav also teaches us that Creative Processes often requires multiple tactical maneuvers, each working towards specific goals and objectives that improve the engagement with the Other. And each must further demonstrate the commitment to the cause.

This return to the tactical is one of the essential teachings about any Creative Process and effective Command. Effective strategic positioning does not simply mean completing one aspect of the Creative Process, but rather the constant back and forth of feedback loops that sometimes require a return to tactical, operative, or even strategic engagement. Command requires knowing when it is time to engage and when to maneuver for improved strategic positioning for strategic effect.

We conclude this Parsha with a clear delineation of the seven day training period. Now that they have received instructions and a delineation of tasks, Aaron and the other Priests shown exactly what they must do. And then they are required to demonstrate commitment and competence. Aaron must demonstrate he is prepared to take on his role and to manage the Ohel and the Priests. And the Priests have to show they are ready to take on their tasks with alacrity and resolve every day of the training.

וּמִפֶּתַח֩ אֹ֨הֶל מוֹעֵ֜ד לֹ֤א תֵֽצְאוּ֙ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים עַ֚ד י֣וֹם מְלֹ֔את יְמֵ֖י מִלֻּאֵיכֶ֑ם כִּ֚י שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים יְמַלֵּ֖א אֶת־יֶדְכֶֽם׃

You shall not go outside the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for seven days, until the day that your period of ordination is completed. For your ordination will require seven days.

כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָׂ֖ה בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה צִוָּ֧ה יְהוָ֛ה לַעֲשֹׂ֖ת לְכַפֵּ֥ר עֲלֵיכֶֽם׃

Everything done today, the LORD has commanded to be done [seven days], to make expiation for you.

וּפֶתַח֩ אֹ֨הֶל מוֹעֵ֜ד תֵּשְׁב֨וּ יוֹמָ֤ם וָלַ֙יְלָה֙ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֛ם אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֥רֶת יְהוָ֖ה וְלֹ֣א תָמ֑וּתוּ כִּי־כֵ֖ן צֻוֵּֽיתִי׃

You shall remain at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days, keeping the LORD’s charge—that you may not die—for so I have been commanded.

(Leviticus 8:33-35)

Once Aaron and the Priests undergo the necessary training and demonstrate the necessary level of commitment and competence, they are ready to be ordained – which we hear about in next week’s Parsha. At that point, we will see the transfer of some of the responsibilities and authority that originally resided with Moses transferred to Aaron as the Cohen Gadol – the High Priest.

So, by commanding Aaron and his sons, Moses orchestrates the process – re-engaging the tactical to significantly change the strategic position and relationship between the People and God. After their ordination, it will be Aaron and the Priests who undertake the daily running of the Ohel Mo’ed. They will act as the go-between for personal and day-to-day interactions between the People of Israel and God.

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