Parashat Vayikra 5772
As we read last week, at the end of Sefer Shemot, Moshe set up the Mishkan and the glory of God filled it.
Here at the beginning of Sefer Vayikra, God calls to Moshe and tells him which sacrifices the Jewish people will be offering.
I must mention that my teacher, Rabbi Mendel Farber, often told me that we should not refer to the animal offerings as sacrifices. To sacrifice something can imply that it is lost and now without value. He contends that whatever we give to God is never lost and never loses its value.
I want to examine the first few verses from this parasha. As is usual, the translation is from Judaica Press.
Vayikra Chapter 1
1 And He called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying,
2 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice.
3 If his sacrifice is a burnt offering from cattle, an unblemished male he shall bring it. He shall bring it willingly to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, before the Lord.
4 And he shall lean his hand [forcefully] upon the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted for him to atone for him. …
9 And its innards and its legs, he shall wash with water. Then, the kohen shall cause to [go up in] smoke all [of the animal] on the altar, as a burnt offering, a fire offering, [with] a pleasing fragrance to the Lord.
Why does this sefer begin with the word vayikra? Why doesn’t it begin “vaydaber Hashem el Moshe leimor – and God spoke to Moshe saying”?
The verse says “ki yakriv.” I would translate this as “when he will bring.” This assumes that a person will bring an offering. Why make this assumption?
Why does the verse say he should bring his burnt offering “willingly – lirtzono”? Isn’t it enough that he brings it? Why should his intention matter?
Why does the person bringing the offering lean on its head?
Why is the word “yado – his hand” in the singular? Does he only lean with one hand?
These verses are about a burnt offering, not a sin offering. What atonement comes from a burnt offering? If the person needs atonement, why would there be an implication that the offering is voluntarily?
In what sense is an offering “a pleasant fragrance”?
We know that the Jewish people brought animal offerings in the wilderness in the Tabernacle and in both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem.
We also know that eventually the third Temple will be built. Will there be animal offerings in the Third Temple in Jerusalem?
Please share your questions and suggested answers in the comments.
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