Parashat Vayikra– Erev Shabbat 11 March 2022
Week of 6-12 March 2022
Torah portion: Leviticus1:1-5:26 Haftarah: 2 Samuel 15:2-15:34
Theme: Sacrifice and Holiness
According to Rav. Menechan Schneerson Our inner high priest is the innermost aspect and core of our soul which is permanently bound to G_D. He also said that the ultimate concept of atonement and forgiveness of sins comes through the transformation of sins into merits.
Levitcus begins with Moses receiving “Vayikra”, “A Call” from G-D. G_D then continues with instructions for Moses to convey to the people concerning offerings/sacrifices. The Hebrew word for an offering; korban, comes from the root krv “to draw near”. According to Lubavitch Rav. Josef Yitzchak: the central importance of bringing a sacrifice was spiritual (3)
G_D called the Hebrews to be His treasured people: to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, and to be a light to all the nations. The primary guideline for accomplishing this mission was the Ten Commandments but following the sin of the golden calf, a remedy to restore their relationship with Him was necessary.
By means of a sacrifice, G_d provided a mechanism for His people to atone for transgressions of the law and to restore their relationship with Him. The NAME representing G_D’s attribute of Mercy is always used in connection with offerings.
There were different offerings for different sins, but to be truly acceptable as an offering to G_D, the intention of the heart had to be pure and humble. The person had to be remorseful, and have resolved to make any change necessary to draw near to G_D. They were to choose an animal as a substitute for them self; it was to be a healthy animal without any blemish. When they brought it to the priest to be sacrificed, they were to put their hand on the head of the animal and imagine the sacrificial act as if it was being done to them. In Psalm 51 we read “a humble and a contrite heart Lord, Thou will not despise”. These instructions were for Teshuva; “a return not only to G_D but also to one’s true self; the image of G_D we are created in” (2).
In the haftarah, Saul had been told to proscribe Amalek and all their possessions, whereas only what was cheap and worthless was destroyed. Samuel confronted Saul for not having done as the Lord commanded, for thinking he knew better and that bringing for sacrifice to G_D the spoils of Amalek was acceptable. For this Saul was rejected as king.
To transform our sins into merits speaks of a complete turning to God and the realization that within the confines of the Law we can realize our greatest potential.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1.Do we consider the motives for the good we do? 2. Are they for our personal satisfaction or do we think of having participated in a divine act?
Bibliography: Stone Edition: The Chumash; Plaut. The Torah, A Modern Commentary; Rav. Menachem M. Schneerson translated by Moshe Wisnefsky, commentary “Channeling the Inner High Priest”(1); Rabbi Ari Khan, commentary “Mystery of the Sacrifices”(2); Lubavitch Rav. Josef Yitzchak writings and talks “Offer Yourself” (3)
This week’s Parasha Commentary was prepared by
Gwen-Ellen Dankewich, Canada, Bat Kol Alumna: 2008
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