• 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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