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Parashat Vayikra 5784 / פָּרָשַׁת וַיִּקְרָא

03/19/2024 08:37:48 AM


LL Giordano

✷ to be read on March 23⎮13 Adar II ✷

In this first Torah portion of the book of Leviticus, God instructs Moses on the five different kinds of sacrifices to be offered in the Mishkan:

  1. The olah or "burnt offering," a voluntary sacrifice that has a high degree of sanctity and is regarded as the "standard" offering. The entire animal, except for its hide, is to be burned on the altar (1:1-17)
  2. The minchah or "meal offering," a sacrifice made of flour, oil, salt, and frankincense that is tod be partly burned on the altar and partly given to the priests to eat (2:1-16)
  3. The zevach sh'lamim or "sacrifice of well-being," a voluntary animal offering from one's herd, sometimes brought to fulfill a vow (3:1-17)
  4. The chatat or "sin offering," an obligatory sacrifice to be offered to expiate unintentional sins. This offering differs from the others in the special treatment of the blood of the animal (4:1-5:13)
  5. The asham or "penalty offering," an obligatory sacrifice of a ram that is required chiefly of one who had misappropriated property (5:1-26)*


If this parsha devoted to the slaughtering of animals, the dashing of their blood, and the burning of portions of their flesh leaves you feeling uninspired, you're not alone. R'Dvora E. Weisberg offers helpful reflections on how Vayikra raises the timeless issue of our striving to connect with the divine. R'Deena Cowans, for her part, reads this parsha in terms of our contemporary struggle to render publicly shareable our otherwise private moral struggles.  (Perhaps, in Judaism, striving to connect with the divine and the pursuit of communal connectivity aren't so different?)

* “Vayikra.” Reform Judaism, Union for Reform Judaism, 2023,

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784