of the Weekly Reading
To be read on Shabbat Vayikra,
5 Nissan 5777/April 1
Torah: Leviticus 1:1-5:26; Haftora: Isaiah 43:21-28, 44:1-23
Vayikra is the 1st Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and it contains
6222 letters, in 1673 words, in 111 verses.
A discussion of how to bring burnt offerings of cattle,
smaller animals and birds. Different types of meal offerings: burnt,
baked, pan fried, deep fried, and the offering of the first grain of
the season. A discussion of other types of offerings: Peace offerings
could be of cattle, sheep or goats. Sin offerings are brought as an
atonement. The sin offering for the high priest, then for the community,
for the king or for an individual. Sins that the Torah delineates specifically
as requiring a sin offering, in which cases he can choose between smaller
animals, birds or a meal offering. Details about guilt offerings brought
because of errors, doubtful situations or dishonesty or theft.
Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
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This week's Torah portion Vayikra speaks about the animal offerings on
the altar in the Holy Temple. Some of the animals that were offered were
cows, goats and sheep. Today we do not have animal offerings so how does
it relate to me? On a spiritual level the offerings were talking about
each of us, offering our 'animal' like nature or attributes on the altar
of the Divine, being willing to change ourselves so we can come closer
to G-d. The Hebrew word for offering, korban, actually means to
come closer. Some people are more like cows - arrogant and careless, like
a bull in a china shop. Some people are like goats - pushing themselves
in, go anywhere, eat anything, full of chutzpa, like a goat. Some
people are like sheep - meek to a fault, just following along, losing
the opportunity, not taking the initiative. Which one are you? Which one
am I? Am I ready to offer this part of myself on the Divine altar, to
burn it up for G-d? (adapted from 'Kuntres Hatefilah')
But let's look into this a bit more deeply. To burn the
sacrifice on the altar you needed wood. Is the wood also an offering or
something negligible? On the one hand, conventionally, the wood was not
part of the offering, rather like a part of the preparation. Yet, the
verse says (chap 2 verse 1), "If a person offers a meal offering,
the offering must be unbaked fine flour". The first word "offering-korban"
is extra. The Sifra Midrash derives from this extra word that when you
bring an offering of flour you can also bring the wood for the altar.
If we learn about the wood from the word "offering-korban",
how can it be that the wood is just something inconsequential, just part
of the preparation?
As we said above, the spiritual idea of an offering is that a person
offers his total self completely to G-d. Just like there are many types
of offerings, and each one offers something different to G-d, so also
on a spiritual level, each different offering reflects a different part
of ourselves that we give over to G-d.
Now, even though there are different types of offerings, the foundation
of the entire concept of offering is that a person has to be ready to
give up all of himself to G-d, not just different pieces here and there.
This is why with all the different types of offerings there was also a
burning of wood. The wood symbolized the person, as the verse says (Deut.
20/19), "a person is a tree of the field." This demonstrates
that in every offering, what is actually being offered is not just one
of the parts, but the whole person, including his essence.
We can understand from this that even though the wood was just part of
the preparation, you can call it also an offering, because it symbolized
the true essence of the offerings, of the person giving himself over entirely
to G-d. Even more, that a person donates wood that is burned totally on
the altar and it was not a mitzvah to do so but only 'preparation'
for the offering to come, shows us that he has no agenda-rather, his whole
purpose is to offer himself. Finally, even if the giving of the wood was
voluntary, not a commandment but a preparation to do a commandment, a
person still wants to donate it because he understands that the wood is
crucial. It demonstrates that his wood donation is all about being willing
to offer himself completely to G-d. This is what an offering really means.
(from 'Likutei Sichos' vol 22 p. 7)
A Jewish author wanted to understand the essence of the Chassidic approach
"Let's take bread as a metaphor," the Lubavitcher Rebbe began.
"Even if you have all the ingredients perfectly arranged, and the
dough kneaded to perfection, unless it is placed in a fiery oven for some
time, the ingredients will remain just that, ingredients.
"The same is true of prayer and the performance of the commandments.
One is able to make a blessing by simply saying the words, and doing a
commandment can be merely performing a deed. However, Chassidut demands
that we become an oven-a fiery space created of enthusiasm and passion
and joy. That's when mitzvot become alive!" (from 'Seeds of Wisdom')
Shabbat shalom, Shaul
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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's
Reading, see the archive.
THE SAGES OF KABBALAH ON KabbalaOnline.org
an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary
Kabbalists, and more,
click to Vayikra
Fixing an Imperfect World
From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz
Adam ki yakriv/for when a man shall offer"
The laws pertaining
to sacrifices, as well as those pertaining to rehabilitation from different
skin diseases and other impurities, are all reminders of the first sin
committed by Adam and the resultant diminution of man's stature in the
universe. Thus, Leviticus provides us with the general rectification of
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