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Parshah of the Week

This week’s Parashah is Vayikra (Zachor) – Shabbat 16 March 2019

G‑d calls out to Moses from the Tabernacle and teaches him the laws of the elective burnt offering, the Olah sacrifice. This section discusses the laws of the cattle, sheep, or goat Olah.

G‑d then teaches Moses the laws of the fowl Olah. This section then continues with a description of three types of voluntary meal offerings: unbaked flour, baked loaves, and the shallow-fried meal offering. All voluntary meal offerings also contained olive oil and frankincense.

The Torah describes the last type of voluntary meal offerings — the deep-fried meal offering — and the mandatory barley offering, the Omer offering, brought on the second day of Passover. G‑d instructs the Jews to add salt to every animal sacrifice or meal offering, a symbol of our everlasting “salt covenant” with G‑d. We are also commanded not to include any leavened items or anything which contains honey in any Temple offering (there are two exclusions to the leaven prohibition).

The “Peace Offering,” the Shelamim sacrifice, is described in this section. The Shelamim — which could be brought from cattle, sheep, or goats — was shared by the altar, which consumed some of the animal’s fats, the Kohanim, and the donors of the sacrifice who were given the bulk of the meat. The section ends with the prohibitions against consuming blood and the specific fats which were offered on the altar. These prohibitions apply to all animals, even those not offered in the Temple.

We now begin learning about the “Sin Offering,” the Chatat sacrifice, brought by an individual who is guilty of inadvertently transgressing a sin. This section discusses the unique Chatat sacrifices brought by a High Priest who sins, by the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) who issue an erroneous ruling which causes the populace to sin, and a monarch who sins.

The Torah discusses the fourth and final type of Chatat, that of a common person who sins. Also discussed is the Korban Oleh Viyored, a “vacillating” Sin Offering, brought by an individual guilty of certain specific sins. The Korban Oleh Viyored depended on the financial position of the transgressor — a wealthy person brought a sheep or goat, a person of lesser means brought two birds, and a pauper brought a meal offering.

This section concludes the laws of the Korban Oleh Viyored. We then move on to the last sacrifice discussed in this week’s Torah reading, the “Guilt Offering,” the Asham Sacrifice. Three types of Asham Sacrifices are discussed: a) an Asham brought by one who inadvertently misappropriates Temple property. b) An Asham brought by one who falsely swears regarding money owed to another. (In addition to bringing a sacrifice, these two individuals must repay the principal amount, and pay a punitive fine equal to one fourth of the principal.) c) An Asham brought by a person who is uncertain whether he violated a Torah prohibition.