Vaykira

Sefer Vaykira focuses on bringing G-ds presence down into this world, while at the same time elevating our neshomas  It also teaches us the proper way to atone for our sins. Which is not only to express regret but also to truly believe and behave like we are never going to do it again. The sin offering is basically saying I am offering up this animal in place of myself, especially in the cases where we deserve the death penalty.  For a further explantion of Korbanos please read below the information that I got from Torah.org on Korbanos.  The other interesting aspect on Sefer Vaykira is the little Alef that is present in the word Vaykira- the most common explanation on this is that it is referring to Moshe’s humility. The word Vaykir means to call in bibical hebrew- this how G-d called to the non-jewish prophet Biliam. Now Moshe did not want to be seen as greater than anyone else, and wanted to use the same word to describe how G-d called to him, this was not the right response, because even though we all need to be aware of how small we are in G-d’s eyes, we also have to recognize the greatness of our leaders. Therefore Moshe followed G-ds instructions to include the Alef but wrote it small, because he was uncomfortable. This teaches us another lesson which is that G-d’s word comes before our personal feelings.

 

The word Korban is traditionally translated as “sacrifice”. Regardless of what the original meaning of sacrifice was (it probably comes from a combination of Latin words – meaning “to make holy”), its common usage bears little – if any – resemblance to the ideology -or etymology – of a Korban. In conventional English, a sacrifice is something given up in exchange for nothing – but on behalf of a noble cause (e.g. defense of country, raising children etc.) The word Korban, on the other hand, comes from the Hebrew root “K*R*B” – meaning “to come close. A Korban is a vehicle for Man to come close to God. For purposes of this shiur, we will either refer to these offerings as Korbanot (plural of Korban) or as “offerings”.

There are, generally speaking, two types of Korbanot: Zevachim (lit. “slaughtered”) and Menachot (grain offerings). Although we will focus on the Korban Minchah, a brief overview of Zevachim is in order – and it will help us understand the phenomenology of the Korban Minchah with greater insight.

 

There are four basic types of Zevachim. (My thanks to the Judaic Seminar list, from whose archives I copies this synopsis)

1. OLAH: “ascend”, seems to refer to this sacrifice’s distinctive feature, that the offering is completely burnt on the altar (except for the hide, which is given to the participating priest), thus it totally “ascends” to God. Only male animals or doves or pigeons (male or female) are acceptable.

2. SH’LAMIM: from “shalem” or “shalom”, presents many possible interpretations. It may express a sense of “well-being”; “wholeheartedness” with God; a gift of “greeting” to God; or perhaps “completeness” (altar, donor and priest all sharing in it). Male or female animals are acceptable but not birds. Certain fat and internal organs are placed on the altar by the kohanim. The remainder, almost the whole animal, is permitted to be eaten. In Vayyikra Chapter 7, the Torah ordains that any pure person is permitted to partake of the Sh’lamim, thus allowing the donor to share it with family and invitees. Eating the Sh’lamim is permitted during the day and night of the offering and the day following and was not restricted to the sanctuary precincts. The “todah” (thanksgiving offering) – a Sh’lamim subdivision – is an exception in that it is only allowed to be eaten the day of its offering and the night following. Priests receive the breast and the right thigh.

An individual’s olah and Sh’lamim are voluntary offerings. Although their names may connote certain purposes, and expiation was mentioned in connection with the olah, the reasons why one may bring an olah are not provided.

3. HATTAT: “sin-offering”, refers only to unintentional sins, generally those that had they been done intentionally are culpable of “karet”. Carelessness and inadvertence indicate laxness as concerns one’s responsibilities; such transgressions defile the sanctuary. The hattat, bringing purification and expiation to the sanctuary, is a mandatory part of the unintentional sinner’s repentance process. With the exception of the Ashem brought for withholding testimony, intentional sins can not be expiated by means of a sacrifice.

Four classes of hattat, varying according to the offender’s status and without reference to the particular transgression, are itemized – those of:

a) the high priest;

b) the whole community of Israel (explained by the sages as based on a high court directive);

c) the chieftain (including the king);

d) any individual.

From the sanctuary perspective the first two classes reflect a graver transgression, impacting the spiritual welfare of the nation, and require an elaborate ritual involving a young bull, a blood- sprinkling ritual on the parokhet veil in the Ohel Moed and upon the incense altar as well as upon the bronze altar, and burning the complete bull on the ash heap outside the camp. The latter two classes of hattat lack these stringencies. After all, the chieftain is not an official religious leader. He brings a male goat while the private individual brings a female goat or ewe. Male priests eat from these latter sacrifices within sanctuary precincts.

Three particular transgressions of omission that require a hattat offering for expiation are also listed:

a) one who withheld testimony despite having heard an adjuration to testify – a type of negligence;

b) various cases of being impure in a span of forgetfulness (and entering the sanctuary or eating sacred items); and

c) inadvertently violating an oath.

Depending on financial ability, one either brings a female sheep or goat, two birds or a measure of flour. In the latter case, oil and frankincense are not added, reflecting the somber nature of the offering.

4. ASHAM: “guilt-offering” of a ram, referring to three specific classes of violations:

a) asham me`ila – an unintentional misappropriation for personal use of sanctuary property. The violator makes full restitution and pays a penalty of one fifth in addition to the sacrifice

b) asham taluy – the contingency asham – when one has a doubt if he committed an unintentional transgression that had be been certain he did transgress unintentionally would require a hattat and br> c) asham g’zelot – a trespass against God in that one lied under oath, defrauding his fellow man concerning a deposit, loan, stolen article, found article, etc.

When the defrauder chooses to repent, he restores the lost capital to the owner, adds a fifth as penalty and brings an asham sacrifice. Although the sin was intentional, when the violator came forth himself to repent by making restitution and paying a penalty, he is allowed the expiation sacrifice. Bamidbar 5:5-10 contains a supplement to this asham legislation.

Before addressing the fifth type of Korban – the Minchah – we will look at two approaches among the Rishonim as to the meaning behind Korbanot (specifically Zevachim).

 

A Minchah, meaning “tributary gift” to God, is the fifth type of Korban. Although in other parts of Tanakh the term minchah is applied to offerings of both agricultural produce and animals (B’resheet 4:3-4; Sh’muel I 2:15-17), in Korbanic legislation it strictly refers to grain offerings. Generally, it is comprised of semolina wheat (solet) and olive oil with some frankincense spice (levonah) added. It could be offered in several varieties: raw, oven-baked in either a thick or thin preparation, or fried either on a griddle or deep-fried in a pan. A fistful is burnt on the altar and the remainder eaten by male priests within sanctuary precincts.

The laws of the Minchah are delineated in Vayyikra, Chapter 2 – and later, from the Kohanic perspective, in 6:7-11. [It is recommended that you read these sections before continuing].

There are several textual anomalies in this section:

1) Unlike the first chapter, which describes the Korban Olah (and later sections describing the other Zevachim), the section on the Korban Minchah is introduced with the phrase v’Nefesh ki Takriv. A Nefesh (which means soul in Rabbinic Hebrew) means a person in Biblical Hebrew. The specific orientation of the word is “life-force”, as we see in Vayyikra 17:11, “The Nefesh of all flesh is in the blood”. Why is the Minchah uniquely described as being brought by a Nefesh?

2) The “Kometz” (fistful) of the Minchah which is burned on the altar is called an Azkarah – commemoration. What is this commemoration and what is being remembered?

3) In 2:11, the Torah prohibits a leavened Minchah – or the use of any leavening or sweetening agent on the altar. Why is Hametz to be distanced from the Mikdash?

4) Within the context of the Korban Minchah, the Torah commands us to salt every Minchah – with the Melach B’rit Elohekha (The salt of the covenant of your God – 2:13). What is the significance of salt – specifically within the context of the Korban Minchah?

There are two other questions, both related to the issue of Hametz:

5) Although the Torah forbade the use of leavening in preparing a Minchah, we are commanded to offer a communal Minchah on Shavuot composed of two loaves (known as Minchat Sh’tei haLechem – specifically made of Hametz (Vayyikra 23:17). Why the exception?

6) There is one other exception to the Hametzless-Minchah rule: the loaves which accompany the Korban Todah (a subset of Sh’lamim). In Vayyikra 7:12-13, the Torah commands us to bring (40) loaves as an accompaniment to the Korban Todah (thanksgiving offering) – and ten of them must be Hametz! Again – why the exception? (See M. Menachot 5:1, where these two are presented as the only two exceptions.)

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