Parashat Vayikra

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Parasha for the Week:  Vayikra: Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26
Aftarah for the Week:  Isaiah 43:21 – 44:23
Besorat Yeshua:  Romans 12: 1 - 3

The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), also known as Torat Kohanim — the Laws of the Priests — deals largely with the korbanot (offerings) brought in the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting).
The first group of offerings is called korban olah, a burnt offering.
The animal is brought to the Mishkan's entrance.  The one bringing the offering sets his hands on the animal. Afterwards it is slaughtered and the kohen sprinkles its blood on the altar. The animal is skinned and cut into pieces. The pieces are arranged, washed and burned on the altar.
Various meal offerings are described. Part of the meal offering is burned on the altar, and the remaining part eaten by the kohanim. Mixing leaven or honey into the offerings is prohibited.
The peace offering, part of which is burnt on the altar and part is eaten, can be either from cattle, sheep or goats.

The Torah prohibits eating blood or fat.
The offerings that atone for inadvertent sins committed by the Kohen Gadol, by the entire community, by the prince and by the average citizen are detailed.
Laws of the guilt-offering, which atones for certain verbal transgressions and for transgressing laws of ritual purity, are listed.
The meal offering for those who cannot afford the normal guilt offering, the offering to atone for misusing sanctified property, laws of the "questionable guilt" offering, and offerings for dishonesty are detailed.

"What Sacrifices Imply"
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"

"Sacrifices and Repentence"
Ramban explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot (sacrifices), the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This helped him in the process of teshuva - correcting his wrong ways.

"Internalizing Torah Values"
The Torah states, "And if any person will sin, and violate one of the commandments of the Almighty which he should not have done, and he did not know, he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity." (Leviticus 5:17)  Why does the Torah prescribe an offering as a punishment for a person who transgresses without intent to transgress?  Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains that the Torah wants us to internalize its values and ideals. It is not sufficient for a person to have a superficial knowledge of Torah values. We need, rather, to make them a part of our inner being. The principle is that a person will not forget or make mistakes in regard to matters that are an integral part of his very being.  If you do forget or make mistakes in some matter, it is a sign that those values are not yet really a part of you. By bringing an offering, a person reminds himself to work on internalizing Torah values. This is our constant task - to integrate Torah values until they become so much a part of our personality that we will always remember them.

"Best Wishes to You and Your Family for a Happy Purim"
On Purim we rejoice because of the great miracle God did to save the generation of Mordechai and Esther from an Holocaust. Simcha-happiness is a very important part of Juda¬ism and serving G-d. King David in Psalm 100 says, "Serve G-d with happiness, come before Him with joyous song." By our joy we shows our appreciation to G-d for the opportunity to observe it.

"Drying the Sea Up"
The Midrash brings the following parable about Haman's plan to destroy the Jewish people: A bird once made its nest near the sea. A wave came and washed away the nest. The bird became very upset at the sea and decided to teach it a lesson. With it's beak, it started taking water from the sea and spitting it on shore.  "What are you doing?" asked another bird.
The first bird told the bird what happened and said that he was determined to punish the sea by drying it up!  "You are very foolish," answered the second bird. "You are no match for the mighty sea. All you will do is exhaust yourself!" The same was with Haman, explain our sages. G-d said, "You want to destroy My people? All you will accomplish is to destroy yourself! But the people of Israel will last forever!"

"Praying to be Connected"
By prayer we are connected to God. Just like water flowing from the faucet has to be connected to the reservoir, so too, in order for G-d's blessings to flow down and reach us we have to connect to G-d, the source of all blessings."

Haftara:  Isaiah 43:21 – 44:23
Parasha: The beginning of the book of Leviticus is about the sacrifices that Israel had to offer to G-d to obtain forgiveness for her sins, You shall lay your hand on the head of the offering and slaughter it at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons the priests shall dash the blood against all sides of the altar (Leviticus 3:2).
Haftara: Israel was not always faithful in her service to the L-rd 'You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honored me with your sacrifices. (Isaiah 43:23). However the L-rd is a L-rd of love, that is why He is always ready to forgive, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25).  The L-rd wants to bless his people with his spirit, "I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. (Isaiah. 44:3).  Israel is the witness of G-d, He is the one who can prove that G-d is G-d and has given true prophecies about his people and about history, "Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come — yes, let him foretell what will come," ... Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. (Isaiah 44:7-8).  G-d is always calling back his people to him, "I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you." (Isaiah. 44:22).  The return of Israel to her G-d will produce joy in Heaven, "Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel. (Isaiah 43:23)

Besorat Yeshua:  Romans 12:1 - 3
Parasha: The beginning of the book of Leviticus is about the sacrifices Israel had to offer to G-d to obtain forgiveness for her sins. However a sacrifice without repentance and confession is not valid. When you realize your guilt in any of these, you shall confess the sin that you have committed (Leviticus 5:5).
Besorah: These offerings all pointed forward to the Lamb of God who would talk away the sin of the world – Y'shua our Messiah.
In Romans 12, written by Rabbi Shaul, it is clear that sacrifices take another meaning, and lead to deeper relationships with G-d. "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)  This means G-d wants all our being offered to Him. When we offer our body, we dedicate our life to G-d. It is the best worship we can offer to our G-d.  Living sacrifice means to live a life in conformity with G-d's will. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2). Through the renewing of our mind by the Spirit of G-d we will discover how G-d's will is good, pleasing and perfect.  The next verse is about humility, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (Romans 12:3). Faith comes from G-d, that is why we have to pray for the gift of faith.

Richard-Amram Elofer


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