Teaching For Shabbat of March 20th, 2021
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Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא)— Hebrew for “and He called,” the first word in the parsha) is the 24th weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings and the original name for the Book of Leviticus. The parsha lays out the laws of different sacrifices and offerings (קָרְבָּנוֹת, korbanot). It constitutes Leviticus 1:1–5:26
Parsha Vayikra Summary
God calls to Moses from the Tent of Meeting, and communicates to him the laws of the korbanot, the animal and meal offerings brought in the Sanctuary. These include:
• The “ascending burnt offering” (olah) that is wholly raised to God by the fire atop the altar;
• Five varieties of “meal offering” (minchah) prepared with fine flour, olive oil and frankincense; This represents God’s people as we are the wheat of Hashem’s harvest, and the frankincense symbolizes our prayerful communication which ascends as a fragrant aroma and the olive oil was the binder symbolizing the Spirit of Truth unifying all God’s people together!
• The “peace offering” (shelamim), whose meat was eaten by the one bringing the offering, after parts are burned on the altar and parts are given to the kohanim (priests); Through the ages, eating together has always been a symbol of peaceful relations and covenant between men and tribes.
• The different types of “sin offering” (chatat) brought to atone for transgressions committed erroneously by the high priest, the entire community, the king or the ordinary Jew; pointing to the Spotless Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the World!
• The “guilt offering” (asham) brought by one who has misappropriated property of the Sanctuary, who is in doubt as to whether he transgressed a divine prohibition, or who has committed a “betrayal against God” by swearing falsely to defraud a fellow man.
This week’s haftorah starts with a rebuke to the Israelites for abandoning the Temple‘s sacrificial service. Sacrifices are the dominant topic of the week’s Torah reading, too.
The prophet Isaiah rebukes the Israelites for turning away from God and refraining from offering sacrifices, turning to idolatry instead. God exhorts the people to return to Him, promising to forgive their transgressions, as is His wont.
The prophet then mentions the futility of serving empty idols which may be crafted by artisans but “neither see nor hear nor do they know…” The haftorah concludes with God’s plea to always remember Him and to return to Him.
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2021 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.