Burnt Offerings

Leviticus 1:1-17

The Torah describes three types of burnt offerings which one might choose to bring to the Tabernacle, a cattle offering, an offering ‘from the flock’, or an offering of fowl. In the first two cases, the text specifies a male animal shall be brought — a bull, a male sheep or a he-goat. For the fowl, a turtledove or young pigeon is appropriate. In each case, the Torah details where to bring the animal, how to slaughter it and what to do with its various parts. In all cases (except the crop of the bird, which is discarded), the animal is burnt in its entirety on the altar — it is called a ‘sweet savor to God.’


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the portion opens with the rules of voluntary offerings before mandatory ones?

Comments ( 20 )

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  • Alicia

    I believe if something is voluntarily people would engage freely and would commit to it. When something is mandatory people feel obligated and wish not to participate; or doing it of guilt or chore

    • Damian Sco

      God loves a happy contributor. He would be primary to God.

  • DannyLee ben Israel

    I am new to this forum and greet y’all in our Adonai. Baruk HaShem. Some might consider just dipping a toe in the waters of discusson at first. However, as an old, former Southern Baptist preacher, I think it better to just jump right in and start discussin’. I’ll be as brief as possible and stick to the topic.

    It appears the main focal point of this chapter is not necessarily about the type of offering. Even though the chapter addresses how they are administered, these instructions seem to include by inference all the varied offerings listed in the Torah of Moshe. Kenneth hits it right by suggesting the subject is of voluntary and heart-felt obedience.

    The queston is asked in our virtual classroom as to why the portion opens with voluntary offerings. In consideration of Kenneth’s comment regarding a quick asddressing of the issue at hand, I’ve heard it said, “time is of the essence”, “there’s no time like the present”, “don’t let the sun go down on your wrath”, etc. To do otherwise allows the problem to simmer and only get bigger and more out of control.

    Kenneth alludes to a day when only voluntary sacrifices and offerings are practiced. Jeremiah says in 31: 33, “For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Yisra’el after those days…I shall put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people”.

    Why would HaShem instruct Moshe to put voluntary offerrings first in this portion? Could it be the answer is found, among other places, in the first commandment of the Ten? By HaShem stating, “I am the Elohim that brought you out of the land of Mitzryim…”, could He be actually asking us to voluntarily “believe in Him”?

    If so, it should be understood we could never keep the remaining Nine without heart-felt belief. Hence, the reason for Lev. chapter 1. Without this action of the heart, keeping of the mandatory aspects of Torah would become efforts in futility, rote routine. They would have no redeeming spiritual value for the individual practicing them

    SueJean writes of the tabernacle Moshe built with physical material and precious stones. With the same willingness of the people of whom she refers, we need to exert the same labor of love to properly construct our internal tabernacle. Only then will we receive from the Lord the acceptance and respect of our offerings, as Steve suggests. Only then will we be a shining light in a very, very dark world.

    • Shira Schechter (Moderator)

      I like that you refer to our “internal tabernacles.” When commanding about the Tabernacle, God says “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). It does not say that the purpose of the Tabernacle is that God “may dwell in it,” rather that He “may dwell among them.” Many commentators conclude that the purpose of building the Tabernacle is to bring God into each of our hearts, or, as you write, the “personal tabernacle” within each of us.

      • SueJean Heinz

        Thank you for sharing that insight.
        We’ve been taught that the Tabernacle was a model of what Elohim was building in each of our hearts. I didn’t know exactly where that teaching came from.
        It’s hard for us to understand how the way we’ve been taught the Torah differs from the Jewish teachings. It can be a little intimidating to say the least.
        Baruch Hashem.

        • DannyLee ben Israel

          SueJean do not dismay. Your understanding on this matter is correct. Although Shira’s comments may give indication of some difference, she is also correct. Let me explain.
          The presence of Elohim most certainly dwelt “within” the Tabernacle but only “among” the people. Because of professed timidity at Sinai, they couldn’t handle direct contact with the presence of Elohim. By contrast, our “personal tabernacle” is constructed out of a willing heart. When done properly, the Spirit of Elohim dwells “within” with all His glory and majesty and becomes our “Teacher”.
          I’ve heard it said that Joshua spent at least as much time in the doorway of the tent of meeting as he did elsewhere. His heart was definitely of the “willing” kind. Just as there were some in Moshe’s day that understood the concept of a “willing heart”, there are those of our day that do the same.
          For over 2000 years, we have not had the benefit of a Tabernacle or a Temple in Jerusalem. During that time, and to this day, we have had no choice but to study Torah’s description of the Tabernacle and design it in our being accordingly, with a willing heart.
          As the magnificance of His presence went forth from the Tabernacle and covered the entire camp, the Spirit of Elohim dwells within our hearts and permeates every fiber of our being, as in the “Shema”, and radiates to everyone around us.
          I believe what I’ve said is in complete agreement with the spirit of this Torah portion. I hope it helps. Baruch ata Adonai!

          • SueJean Heinz

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I find them quite uplifting and relevant.
            Baruch Hashem.

    • Angela B

      I like the connection you give to the 10 commandments, DannyLee, we have to first voluntarily accept Yahweh as our Elohim for us to be able to meet all the other commands of His.

    • Richard M Scott

      Welcome All viewpoints considered.

  • Angela B

    Thank you all, very useful insights.

  • Steve Bennett

    Having read all your excellent comments I only have one small thought to offer. My mind went straight to Hevel (Abel ) and Kayin (Cain). Genesis 4 verses 4-5, The LORD had respect for Abel and his offering. First it’s the person making the offering that the LORD has regard for and secondly the offering. We need to be right or the right offering will become wrong. Sadly the LORD had no respect for Kayin, and his inability to receive His word, repent and make a good offering. Instead of being angry with himself he failed to rule over sin at the door and lashed out. The rest is history. Offerings begin with the Fear of the LORD and the free-will offering of courage to dare to draw close to HIM the LORD.

  • Shira Schechter (Moderator)

    As the Israel Bible commentary to Leviticus 1:2 points out, the Hebrew term for offering, ‘korban,’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘karov,’ meaning close, since the offerings were meant to bring people closer to God. Perhaps the voluntary offerings are mentioned first since they help build the relationship with God and bring man closer to Him. The mandatory offerings are sin offerings, meant to atone for man’s transgressions and restore the relationship between man and God to the way it was before the sin. First we learn how to build the relationship, then how to repair it.

  • SueJean Heinz

    I agree with Kenneth in that Elohim values a willing and contrite heart.

    I think it was important to teach the people that would hasten to bring a sacrifice what would be acceptable to Adonai. As we saw in the construction of the Tabernacle, many people were willing to give their best gifts towards building it. There were so many that were willing, Moshe finally had to call for them to stop bringing gifts.

    The same thing may have happened when the people learned about making sacrifices. It was important to give them a clear understanding before they got the wrong ideas. The Torah makes it very clear how we are to worship Elohim. I think it really matters to HIM that we get these things right so that we don’t confuse HIM with other gods/religions.

  • Diana Brown

    The ordinances of atonement were given voluntary and mandatory because God searches and knows the depth of our hearts. There are always those who hear the Voice of God and willingly, speedily respond with joy and gratefulness. They seek to obey as the angels do…immediately and without question. That is what God is looking for first.
    The rest of God’s sheep and goats must be led with rules they study and eventually understand the importance of coming close to the Lord through atonement. All the ordinances are important to bring redemption. He is always looking for voluntary first. We are thankful that, in His Mercy, He accepted the sacrifices–voluntary and mandatory–from all His People just as He did the half-shekel offering to atone for each soul in the last portion.
    I did notice two things from the reading today….the male gender is mentioned for the cattle,sheep and goats. No gender for the fowl. Also, the sheep or goats must be slaughtered at the north side of the altar while the other sacrifices are to be done at the entrance/on the altar. I am thinking the fowl represents the Bride of HaShem as the Red Heifer represents the Bride. What is your drash on these issues Aliza?

    • You bring up really great points and ideas. For the place of slaughter, perhaps one of the reasons for the differences is connected to the size of the animal, for practical purposes. I’m not an expert on sacrifices, but that was just one of my thoughts. As well, sounds very interesting but I’m not sure about the symbolism of the Bride of HaShem. I would have to research the topic some more.

    • Angela B

      Thanks for that analysis. I wonder why Yahweh attaches much importance to the male gender for the animals and not the fowl.

    • Angela B

      Thanks for that analysis. I wonder why Yahweh attaches much importance to the male gender for the animals but not so for the fowl.

  • Theresa

    Thank you for sharing the root meaning of corban. Sacrifice is a hard concept to understand. It seems to tie back to Genesis 2:17, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” So hard to grasp that the death of something pays the price for me and makes me close to Him. Interesting that the word translated man is adam in Lev 1:2.
    The blood is to be sprinkled around the altar, the life is in the blood. Aharon’s sons lay the head first, (our minds and thoughts?), the fat (?), the inwards cleaned with water (pure heart and desires?) and legs (where we walk?).

    • Interesting point about the choice of the word Adam for man (and not ish, for example). Rashi also points that out, and explains that just as Adam never brought sacrifices to God since he owned everything, so too, we are commanded to not bring stolen goods as sacrifices.

  • Kenneth Osterman

    Being of a willing spirit and being proactive is better than simply doing the expected and in reacting along with everyone in the mandatory offerings.
    Though some offerings are thank and praise offerings, most offerings have a direct connection with atonement – a making right with God. In verse 4 we see that the participant can obtain atonement with God. Rather than wait for the mandatory offerings and the special “Day of Atonement”, a sorrowful sinner could address the issue quickly at any time.
    In practice, this could be overwhelming for the priests, so I surmise the people allowed their sins to accumulate and doing so burdened themselves increasingly. The LORD provided the Day of Atonement for such a reality.
    Do we long for the day when there are no longer any mandatory Atonement sacrifice(s) but only voluntary thank and praise offerings to our Creator?

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