Torah Weekly

For the week ending 1 April 2017 / 5 Nisan 5777

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.


Walking with the King

“And He called…” (1-1)

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe zatzal used to say that it escaped him how someone could be charmed by being honored. Surely this honor would just fill a person with acute embarrassment to the extent that he wouldn’t know where to put himself.

He gave a parable to explain his reasoning:

Once there was a king who appointed an official to govern a provincial town. As the governor of this town, the official received a great deal of respect from the local inhabitants.

One day the king arrived in the town to see how his official was doing. The king had decided to travel incognito and didn't look like anyone special. Only the official knew the king's true identity. As they passed through the town, the inhabitants tipped their caps with great respect to the official, and completely ignored the ordinary-looking stranger who was accompanying him. Understandably, the more respect and honor which the official received, the more embarrassed and uncomfortable he became, acutely feeling how this respect should rightfully belong only to the king.

This feeling of embarrassment is the way we should all feel.

We know that all honor is only due to G-d, and it’s only because G-d accompanies us wherever we go that we are respected for the virtues that He has bestowed on us.

Moshe Rabbeinu was the humblest of all men. When G-d told him to write the first word in this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, “And he called…” — Moshe wrote it with a small aleph. The aleph is the letter of the “I”, of the ego. Moshe wrote the aleph at the end of the word smaller than the rest of the word, and it looks like the word Vayikar“And He happened upon.” Moshe felt that he wasn’t important enough to be intentionally called upon. Rather, from his humble perspective G-d “happened upon him”.

  • Sources: based on the Mayana Shel Torah who heard this from the Sadigura Rebbe in Pashmishel

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