Torah Weekly

For the week ending 21 March 2015 / 1 Nisan 5775

Parshat Vayikra

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), also known as Torat Kohanim — the Laws of the Priests — deals largely with the korbanot (offerings) brought in the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting). The first group of offerings is called korban olah, a burnt offering. The animal is brought to the Mishkan's entrance. For cattle, the one bringing the offering sets his hands on the animal. Afterwards it is slaughtered and the kohen sprinkles its blood on the altar. The animal is skinned and cut into pieces. The pieces are arranged, washed and burned on the altar. A similar process is described involving burnt offerings of other animals and birds. The various meal offerings are described. Part of the meal offering is burned on the altar, and the remaining part eaten by the kohanim. Mixing leaven or honey into the offerings is prohibited. The peace offering, part of which is burnt on the altar and part is eaten, can be either from cattle, sheep or goats. The Torah prohibits eating blood or chelev (certain fats in animals). The offerings that atone for inadvertent sins committed by the Kohen Gadol, by the entire community, by the prince and by the average citizen are detailed. Laws of the guilt-offering, which atones for certain verbal transgressions and for transgressing laws of ritual purity, are listed. The meal offering for those who cannot afford the normal guilt offering, the offering to atone for misusing sanctified property, laws of the "questionable guilt" offering, and offerings for dishonesty are detailed.



“A pleasing aroma for G-d” (13:17)

Why is it that when someone takes some unidentifiable glob out of the fridge that has been hiding there for more than a month, they bring it over to you and say, “This smells terrible! Smell it!”?

Why is that we have to share the smell of something terrible with others?

Truth be told, the sense of smell is unique. Smell was the only human sense not party to the sin of Adam and Chava. The other senses were all involved in the sin. Chava started off by listening to the snake and then, "The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and it was appetizing to the eyes... and she took (touch) from its fruit and she ate (taste)." (Ber. 3:6)

Notice that the sense of smell is conspicuously absent here.

The nose is the place where life begins. G-d blew the living soul of man into his nostrils (Ber. 2:7). Perhaps it is for that reason that the nose is the first place that we sense decay, for decay is no more than the evidence that life has left the living.

The “shehechiyanu” blessing that we recite on eating fruits that we have not eaten since their previous season is not recited on a fragrance that we have not enjoyed since its previous season. Maybe this is because the sense of smell was never blighted by the sin of Adam and Chava and remained on a higher realm — beyond time.

A scent is something that we discern from afar, and thus anything that we recognize before we actually encounter the thing itself can be called its “aroma.”

It is the job of a korban sacrifice to be a harbinger of good to come; that we sense now the good deeds that will emanate from the person bringing the korban from now on. This is because the essence of a korban is teshuva — a return to G-d by rectifying our negative actions. And without this resolution to change for the better, the korban itself is valueless. As G-d says, “What good to Me are the multitude of your sacrifices?” (Yeshayahu ch. 1)

The precursor of good deeds to come is “a pleasing aroma to G-d.”

  • Source: based on the Chidushei HaRim

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