From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayikra
Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא — [God] called out) – Leviticus 1:1-5:26
The Eternal One called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: “Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When any of you presents an offering of cattle to the Eternal: You shall choose your offering from the herd or from the flock.” – Leviticus 1:1-2
God instructs Moses on the five different kinds of sacrifices that were to be offered in the sanctuary:
- The olah or “burnt offering” was a voluntary sacrifice that had a high degree of sanctity and was regarded as the “standard” offering. The entire animal, except for its hide, was burned on the altar. (1:1-17)
- The minchah or “meal offering” was a sacrifice made of flour, oil, salt, and frankincense that was partly burned on the altar and partly given to the priests to eat. (2:1-16)
- The zevach sh’lamim or “sacrifice of well-being” was a voluntary animal offering from one’s herd, sometimes brought to fulfill a vow. (3:1-17)
- The chatat or “sin offering” was an obligatory sacrifice that was offered to expiate unintentional sins. This offering differs from the others in the special treatment of the blood of the animal. (4:1-5:13)
- The asham or “penalty offering” was an obligatory sacrifice of a ram that was required chiefly of one who had misappropriated property. (5:1-26)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vayikra_%28parsha%29
Both the parashah and the haftarah address sacrifices to God. Both the parashah and the haftarah address burnt offerings (‘olah), meal offerings (minchah), frankincense (levonah), and witnesses (ed [עֵד] or eday [עֵדָי]).
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא — Hebrew for “and He called”) – Leviticus 1:1-5:26
The parashah lays out the laws of sacrifices (קָרְבָּנוֹת, korbanot).
[The triennial reading, Lev 3:1-4:26, covers the sacrifices of wellbeing (שְׁלָמִים, sh’lamim) which could be male or female cattle, sheep or goats, and specific rituals. It goes on to describe sin offerings (חַטָּאת, chatat) for “unwitting sin” by the High Priest or the people requiring the sacrificing of a bull, and specific rituals. The sacrificing of a male goat and specific rituals were required for “unwitting sin” by a chieftain.]
In Modern Interpretation – Leviticus chapters 3–4
[The late Biblical Scholar Conservative Rabbi Jacob] Milgrom taught that in the original Priestly source (“P”), an offerer brought the well-being offering in Leviticus 3 solely out of joyous motivations like thanksgiving, vow fulfillment, or spontaneous free will. The offerer shared the meat of the offering with family and friends. Milgrom reasoned that the advent of the Holiness Code (“H”) brought another dimension to the sacrifice of the well-being connected with the prohibition of consuming blood. H’s ban on nonsacrificial slaughter meant that all meat eaten as food had initially to be sanctified on the altar as a well-being offering.
Milgrom taught that the rationale for the sin or purification offering in Leviticus 4:1–5:13 was related to the impurity generated by violations of prohibitive commandments, which, if severe enough, polluted the sanctuary from afar. Milgrom called this pollution the Priestly Picture of Dorian Gray: While sin might not scar the face of the sinner, it did scar the face of the sanctuary. This image illustrated a Priestly version of the doctrine of collective responsibility: When evildoers sinned, they brought the more righteous down with them. Those who perished with the wicked were not entirely blameless, but inadvertent sinners who, by having allowed the wicked to flourish, also contributed to pollution of the sanctuary. The High Priest and the leaders of the people, in particular, brought special sacrifices in Leviticus 4:9 and 23, for their errors caused harm to their people, as reflected in Leviticus 4:3 and 10:6. Thus, in the Priestly scheme, brazen sins (the leaders’ rapacity) and inadvertent sins (the silent majority’s acquiescence) polluted the sanctuary (and corrupted society), driving God out of the sanctuary and leading to national destruction. In the theology of the purification offering, the sanctuary needed constant purification lest God abandon it because of the people’s rebellious and inadvertent sins.
In Critical Analysis
Scholars who follow the Documentary Hypothesis attribute the parashah to the Priestly source who wrote in the 6th or 5th century BCE.
REFLECTION – The Book of Leviticus
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Leviticus
Most of its chapters (1–7, 11–27) consist of God’s speeches to Moses, which God commands Moses to repeat to the Israelites. This takes place within the story of the Israelites’ Exodus after they escaped Egypt and reached Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1). The Book of Exodus narrates how Moses led the Israelites in building the Tabernacle (Exodus 35–40) with God’s instructions (Exodus 25–31). Then in Leviticus, God tells the Israelites and their priests how to make offerings in the Tabernacle and how to conduct themselves while camped around the holy tent sanctuary. Leviticus takes place during the month or month-and-a-half between the completion of the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:17) and the Israelites’ departure from Sinai (Numbers 1:1, 10:11).
The instructions of Leviticus emphasize ritual, legal and moral practices rather than beliefs. Nevertheless, they reflect the world view of the creation story in Genesis 1 that God wishes to live with humans. The book teaches that faithful performance of the sanctuary rituals can make that possible, so long as the people avoid sin and impurity whenever possible. The rituals, especially the sin and guilt offerings, provide the means to gain forgiveness for sins (Leviticus 4–5) and purification from impurities (Leviticus 11–16) so that God can continue to live in the Tabernacle in the midst of the people.
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence especially against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and all other minority communities, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, COVID-19, natural disasters, war and violence – including those who died on the assault of the US Capitol on January 6, and those who died as a result of the attack on three Atlanta spas on March 16.
This coming week, the 7th through the 13th of Nisan, we lovingly remember:
Edmund Burke Harris
Father of Rachel Harris
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, March 19, 2021.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Vayikra (triennial part) Lev 3:1-4:26
Time: Mar 19, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Mar 19, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
PS – Pesach is a short week away. Most Reform Jews observe Pesach for seven days, as in Israel, starting the evening of Saturday, March 27 and ending the evening of Saturday, April 3. Others observe eight days ending Sunday evening, April 4, 2021. At Temple Kol Hamidbar we will celebrate a community online Second Night Inclusion Seder led by Dr. Sam Caron, President, and Doug Annino, Lay Leader, on Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 6 PM. Please read Dr. Caron’s emails for details and RSVP.