The Portion of Vayikra

Mar 15, 2015

Photo credit: Yehoshua Halevi

וַיִּקְרָא אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֵלָיו מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר׃

Hashem called to Moshe and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying:

Leviticus 1:1

וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו הַכֹּהֵן לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה וְנִסְלַח לוֹ עַל־אַחַת מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂה לְאַשְׁמָה בָהּ׃

The Kohen shall make expiation on his behalf before Hashem, and he shall be forgiven for whatever he may have done to draw blame thereby.

Leviticus 5:26

The portion of Vayikra opens where the book of Exodus left off; after God’s glory descends to the Tabernacle, Moses cannot enter, therefore God has to call to him to come forward. The portion, like most of the book of Leviticus, continues with a detailed accounting of several sacrificial services. It begins by looking at the voluntary offerings brought by the people under various circumstances, then continues by discussing the mandatory offerings required under different conditions.

 

As the Israel Bible points out, the Hebrew word for sacrifice is “korban”, which is derived from the word karov, meaning “close”. The purpose of the sacrifice, then, is to bring the bearer closer to God. Like the Tabernacle in which it is brought, the goal of the sacrifice is to foster the relationship between God and the Children of Israel. Thus, the one who brings the sacrifice gains much more than he gives. Today, since the Temple no longer stands in Jerusalem, we are unable to practice the sacrificial rites as outlined in the Torah. Instead, the prayer service is meant to bring worshipers closer to God.

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