Weekly Sidra: Vayikra (and He called)
Torah Portion: Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1-5:26
Haftorah: Yeshayahu / Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Vayikra, VaYikra, Va-yikra, or Vayyiqra (ויקרא — Hebrew for "and He called,” the first word in the parshah) is the 24th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the first in the book of Leviticus. It constitutes Leviticus 1:1–5:26. Jews in the Diaspora read it the 23rd or 24th Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in March or early April. The parshah lays out the laws of the sacrifices (korbanot).
The title “Leviticus” is derived from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Torah. The book of Leviticus is predominantly concerned with Levitical rituals. An older Hebrew name for the book was “The Laws of the Priesthood,” but in Judaism today, it is referred to by the name Vayikra (ויקרא), which means “And He called.” Vayikra is the first Hebrew word of the book, which begins by saying, “And the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from inside the tent of meeting” (Leviticus 1:1).
The Book of Leviticus describes the sacrificial service and the duties of the priests. It also introduces ritual purity, the biblical diet, the calendar of appointed times, laws of holiness and laws relating to redemption, vows and tithes. In addition, Leviticus discourses on ethical instruction and holiness. The twenty-fourth reading from the Torah is eponymous with the Hebrew name of the book it introduces: Vayikra.
This parsha begins the third book of the Torah, Vayikra. Last week we completed the reading of the book of Shemot, which consisted of the story of the Jewish people from the time they went down into Egypt and slavery, until they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai, and finally the building of the Mishkan (the sanctuary) in the desert, and the cloud of God’s glory filling the Mishkan. Another name for this book of Vayikra is Toras Kohanim, because many of the laws dealing with Kohanim and their service in the Mishkan are given here.
Note: On the Shabbat the Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading. Here are this week`s aliyot:
1st Aliya: This parsha is traditionally the first one learned by small children when they begin their Jewish studies and they are shown the small letter alef in the first word "Vayikra". Several commentaries say that the alef is small to indicate the humility of Moshe. The parasha begins with God calling (the word "Vayikra") Moshe Rabeinu to the Mishkan, and giving details of the procedure of giving animal sacrifices.
2nd Aliya: The parasha continues the discussion of sacrifices, but here discussing bird, meal, and baked-offerings used for sacrifices.
3rd Aliya: This aliya discusses offerings – this time the deep-fried offering, and the prohibition of having chametz or fruit extract in the offering, and the need to have salt in it. This latter requirement, of needing salt with the offering. The offering of first grain is also discussed here.
4th Aliya: Here are given the peace offerings of cattle, sheep, and goats. The aliyah ends with a "chok" (statute without apparent reason) that neither fat nor blood should be eaten throughout our generations wherever we may live.
5th Aliya: This aliya describes this Korban Chatat – the sin offering. Three unique sin offerings are described:
1. When the High Priest sinned
2. If the King sinned
3. If the entire nation sinned because of a wrong ruling by the Sanhedrin – High Court. Note: A Korban Chatat could only be offered if the sin was unintentional.
6th Aliya: This aliya gives the sin offering of common people. Also given here is the offering of a person who is in a position to give evidence in court but doesn’t. The offering given by a person that becomes tame (ritually impure), whether by touching a dead unkosher animal, or a creeping animal which is dead, and then goes and eats something sanctified or goes into a sanctified area of the temple, is here.
7th Aliya: The Korban Chatat of a commoner is detailed, as well as the specifics of the Korban Asham – the guilt offering. This Korban was offered in instances where intentional wrong doing was implicated; such as not fulfilling an assumed oath, or doing something questionable without first ascertaining the law. Additionally, a type of Asham was offered in instances of dishonesty and swearing falsely.
Also included is the law of one who lies to his neighbor, such as in a business deal, or robbery or withholding funds, or finding a lost article and denying it. He must make an offering, restore the principal amount, and add one fifth to it.
Tags: book of leviticus, burnt offering, Divrei Torah, female cattle, greek septuagint, hebrew name, hebrew word, korban, leviticus 1, male sheep, matzah, mincha, parshat vayikra, passover, peace offering, Portion of the Week, reading from the torah, ritual purity, sacrifice, sacrificial service, sanhedrin, septuagint lxx, Shabbat Notes, sheep and goats, sin offerings, tithes, torah newsletter, turtle dove, women's torah
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