• Daily Aliya for Vayikra, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: 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).

    Our table is like the Alter. A famous saying with many different manifestations. We salt our HaMotzi bread because we are expected to add an element of spirituality to an otherwise very mundane act of eating. Salt is a preservative and salt does not spoil. As such, it represents an element of the eternal in this temporal world.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayikra, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d then teaches Moshe the laws of the fowl Olah. This Aliya 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.

    Until this point in Vayikra, the Torah has described four different types of voluntary offerings, each one less expensive than the one before it. The bull is most costly, sheep and goat cost less, but more than a dove. And a flour and oil offering is the least expensive. The person who brings the korban is referred to as “adam”, a human, the first time, and then with the pronoun he, him, his (she, her, hers). Only with the flour & oil offering is the donor referred to as “nefesh”, a soul. Rashi says this refers to the poor person, who is the one who would most likely bring the Mincha. It might not cost a lot, but the poor person puts his soul into his modest korban.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayikra, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: This week’s Torah reading, Vayikra, begins the third book of the Torah, Leviticus. Last week we completed the reading of the book of Exodus, which concluded with a description of the construction of the Tabernacle. This week’s portion will provide a description of the various sacrifices – animal, fowl, and meal-offerings – offered by the priests in this newly constructed Sanctuary.

    Aliya Summary: G‑d calls out to Moshe from the Tabernacle and teaches him the laws of the elective burnt offering, the Olah sacrifice. This aliyahdiscusses the laws of the cattle, sheep, or goat Olah. Many details of korbanot have psychological effects upon the one who brings the korban. The contact with the animal gives the korban-bringer a sober realization of the tenuousness of life (his own, not just the animal’s).

  • Daily Aliya for Vayikra, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Shishi discusses the fourth and final type of sin offering, that of a person who is guilty of sinning unintentionally (it’s important to note that unintentional sinning is still wrong, and requires atonement, which is why the Rabbis place further restrictions, to keep us further away from sinning). Also discussed is the “vacillating” sin offering (Oleh Viyored), brought by an individual guilty of certain specific sins (making an oath, not testifying about something they saw, touching something spiritually unclean, swearing to do harm or good). The offering varies depending on what the person can afford.

    This vacillating offering is interesting. Imagine filling out a form where all the answers are true/false, and suddenly you see a multiple choice answer. It certainly draws your attention to it, as does this. Looking at the list of transgressions for this category, they all seem to be deliberate actions, as opposed to unintentional acts. So if someone decides to accept an oath, for example, they must keep their oath, but also bring an offering. So why would a person consciously decide to accept an oath, or touch a carcass? Once again, the answer could be the allowance of the human element. Maybe there was no one else to care for the dead, and maybe an oath was required to give someone hope or comfort. I’m not justifying sinning, just pointing out that just as the circumstances behind each scenario is different, the offering is also varied based on affordability. This was probably the most widely-brought offering, so it’s nice to know that it was adjustable.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayikra, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    This Aliya describes the three unique sin offerings: 1) When the High Priest sinned (see Weekly Dvar for more on this one), 2) If the entire nation sinned because of a wrong ruling by the High Court, and 3) If the King sinned.

    Two things immediately stand out to me in this Aliya. first, the second Passuk (verse) seems superfluous, saying that if a person sins unintentionally… that’s it – there isn’t a “then” attached to the “if”. The very next Passuk starts with “if the Cohen sins…”. The second thing that stands out is the order of the offerings described. Cohen, then community, then king. It’s not going from broad spectrum to specific people, it’s going from specific, to broad, back to specific. It just seems a little random.

    It could be that the two questions can help answer each other. Maybe the “extra” Passuk is there to tell us that a person will sin, inevitably, because they’re human. And the Cohen is listed first because it’s that very same Cohen that will be handling the sin offerings for everyone else. It shows the humanity of the system, that no one is above mistakes; not the king, not the court, and not even the Cohen who will handle your sin offering. So don’t feel so bad if you make a mistake, because we’re build to err. It’s what we do about it that matters…

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