parshah vayikra v’shabbat zachor

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This week we begin the book of Vayikra by reading Vayikra (Leviticus) 1:1-5:26. As it is shabbat zachor, we also read Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19.

As I wrote earlier, I’ve recently discovered the translated commentary of Me’am Lo’ez in my Uni library. I do not believe they have a complete set, but they have many volumes, including two on Vayikra. I have taken the first of those volumes home (next week is Spring break) and have been slowly devouring it.

The first part of the book of Vayikra is also known as “Torat Kohanim” or the book of laws for the Kohanim because it begins with detailing the offerings and sacrifices.

Woah, why and how do we sacrifice if we believe that ha’shem is not physical and therefore how could god benefit from a sacrifice? In reading Me’am Lo’ez, I learned of five reasons to highlight why it is not a bribe or a gift. I’m still trying to wrap my head around them all but here is the list:

  1. It was to arouse the heart, when this is done there is a desire to repent and change ways. One is supposed to mediate on all that is done to the animal (all actions are similar to that what could be done to he that is bringing the offering), in his stead.
  2. So that the kohanim have a livelihood.
  3. It is a fine of sorts, the monetary loss helps him to account for his sin. I should note that the fine was tied to one’s wealth, a rich person was not able to bring the same sacrifice as one less financially secure.
  4. I learned that the sinner ‘should mediate and his heart be aroused’, and i should look at tehillim 51:19.
  5. Lastly, (this surprised me) it was to wean the Israelites off of Idolatry. All the animals specified [at least the larger ones] were worshiped in the other lands.

(From: Magriso, Rabbi Yitzchok. translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. The Torah Anthology: MeAm Lo’ez: Volume 11 Leviticus 1 Maznaim Publishing Corporation, New York: 1982, pp 1-12).

I have more I could write on, but that will need to suffice for this week.

This week is also Shabbat Zachor as it is the shabbat before Purim! (AAAHCK!) Zachor means to remember, and we read the part about remembering the evil of Amalek. Some info here.

שׁבּת שׁלום