Vayikra (Leviticus 1-5)

Vayikra (Leviticus 1-5)

The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called “sacrifices” or “offerings.” According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a “sacrifice” implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An “offering” implies a gift which satisfies the receiver.

The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.

Ramban, one of the essential commentaries on Torah, explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva — correcting his erring ways.

This week’s portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt offering, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer “blood” to gain atonement), the first grain offering, peace offering, unintentional sin offering (private and communal), guilt (for an intentional sin) offerings — varied upon one’s ability to pay, and an offering for personal use of something designated or belonging to the Tabernacle or the Temple.

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

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Dvar Torah based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

“And if any person sins through error by his doing any of the commandments of the Lord that may not to be done, and he becomes guilty; or his sin be known to him, then he shall bring for his offering …” (Leviticus 4:27-28).

While at present we do not have the Temple in Jerusalem to aid in atoning for transgressions, what else do we have to help us atone?

Rabbi Yochanan was walking on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Rabbi Yehoshua was following him. When they saw the ruins of the Bais Hamikdosh (Holy Temple), Rabbi Yehoshua said, “Woe to us. The place that atoned for sins is destroyed.” “My son,” said Rabbi Yochanan, “We still have another means of atonement that is equal to the Bais Hamikdosh: Chesed (acts of lovingkindness). As it is stated, ‘Lovingkindness is what I [God] want …’ (Hoshea 6:6).” (Avos D’Reb Noson, ch. 4).

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