There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Vayikra, aliyah by aliyah.
Vayikra Leviticus 1:1-5:26
Aliyah 1 – Leviticus 1:1-13
Leviticus 1:1 HaShem called to Moshe and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said
This is what the Torah has been building towards for so long. HaShem ordered the Tabernacle to be built so he could dwell amongst Israel and meet with them their to interact with them and it is coming to fruition.
2 “Speak to the people of Isra’el; say to them, ‘When any of you brings an offering to HaShem, you may bring your animal offering either from the herd or from the flock. 3 If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he must offer a male without defect. He is to bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, so that it can be accepted by HaShem. 4 He is to lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him
HaShem is once again telling Israel His love language. This is how he wants them to come before Him. This is His will.
Leviticus 1:5 He is to slaughter the young bull before HaShem; and the sons of Aharon, the cohanim, are to present the blood. They are to splash the blood against all sides of the altar, which is by the entrance to the tent of meeting.
It is interesting that the cohenim are speficially tasked with carrying the blood of the slain animal and bringing it to HaShem. They do not have to be the ones who kill the animal. The person bringing the animal can kill it, is said to be the one to kill it. The penitent person brings his animal to HaShem and kills it and then depends on the cohen to offer the blood for him because he can’t do it himself.
Leviticus 1:6 He is to skin the burnt offering and cut it in pieces.
This animal is really being altered from its current state as it comes closer to the presence of HaShem.
7 The descendants of Aharon the cohen are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 The sons of Aharon, the cohanim, are to arrange the pieces, the head and the fat on the wood which is on the fire on the altar. 9 He is to wash the entrails and lower parts of the legs with water, and the cohen is to cause all of it to go up in smoke on the altar as a burnt offering; it is an offering made by fire, a fragrant aroma for HaShem.
This “burnt offering” or “whole burnt offering” is one category of offering and it is made to be entirely burned and go up in smoke to HaShem. This offering has nothing to do with sin, it is entirely done to give it to HaShem and neither the offerer or the cohen benefits from it. It is done to present a fragrant aroma to HaShem.
10 “‘If his offering is from the flock, whether from the sheep or from the goats, for a burnt offering, he must offer a male without defect. 11 He is to slaughter it on the north side of the altar before HaShem; and the sons of Aharon, the cohanim, are to splash its blood against all sides of the altar. 12 He is to cut it into pieces, and the cohen is to arrange them with the head and fat on the wood which is on the fire on the altar. 13 He is to wash the entrails and lower parts of the legs with water; and the cohen is to offer it all and make it go up in smoke on the altar as a burnt offering; it is an offering made by fire, a fragrant aroma for HaShem.
This clarifies that the rules for the burnt offering is to be the same wther it is from the herd or the flock. LEV 1:3 begins the section concerning the herd animal, which I assume is a bull. LEV 1:10 concerns animals from the herd, which I assume are goats or sheep. Since the animal is male, I suppose the male would be a ram, although it could be a sheep or lamb around one-year old. That age perscription is not given in this aliyah, but it comes up elsewhere.
Aliyah 2 – Leviticus 1:14-2:6
Leviticus 2:3 But the rest of the grain offering will belong to Aharon and his sons; it is an especially holy part of the offerings for HaShem made by fire.
This grain offering seems to have nothing to do with sin or guilt or anything negative. I think it is an offering made for the love of G-d. More than that, it is partly offered to HaShem while the priests get the majority of it and are to eat it. It strikes me a beautiful that someone can bring an offering to HaShem and the priests who facilitate that offering being made would be blessed in a material way.
Aliyah 3 – Leviticus 2:7-16
Leviticus 2:13 You are to season every grain offering of yours with salt — do not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your G-d, but offer salt with all your offerings.
What salt of the covenant? I think this is the first mention of any salt associated with the Levitical sacrifices. This verse sounds like it is reffering to something that was brought up previously. I checked a concordance and I don’t see it appearing before this. It almost feels like something was left out or mentioned elsewhere and not recorded here for some reason.
Aliyah 4 – Leviticus 3:1-17
Leviticus 3:1 ‘If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, then, if he offers before HaShem an animal from the herd, then, no matter whether it is male or female, it must be without defect.
Another way to say that something is without defect is to say it is flawless or perfect. If an animal can be perfect, why can’t you or I? Messiah does say in Matthew 5:48 “Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Doesn’t that suggest to you that perfection is attainable?
Aliyah 5 – Leviticus 4:1-26
Leviticus 4:2 Tell the people of Isra’el: ‘If anyone sins inadvertently against any of the mitzvot of HaShem concerning things which should not be done, if he does any one of them
There is no sacrifice given for intentional sin. The other sacrifices mentioned before this have nothing to do with sin. This sacrifice is for unintentional sin. These are important distinctions to understand.
Aliyah 6 – Leviticus 4:28-5:10
Leviticus 5:1 ‘If a person who is a witness, sworn to testify, sins by refusing to tell what he has seen or heard about the matter, he must bear the consequences.
Is the problem here that this person is breaking the oath he made to testify or that he is withholding information on the matter? That’s something I would have to think about.
Aliyah 7 – Leviticus 5:11-26
Leviticus 5:11 But if his means are insufficient even for two doves or two young pigeons, then he is to bring as his offering for the sin he committed two quarts of fine flour for a sin offering; he is not to put any olive oil or frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering.
LEV 5:11It is not a sin to be poor and the poor are not punished by being unable to bring offerings to HaShem. That’s beautiful and wise and it is a demonstration of the Almighty’s love and compassion for each person.
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
- What is the mystery of the salt covenant?
- Is perfection attainable?
- Why are the “guilt offenses” so broad?
That concludes my journey through Pekudei for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.