Weekly Reading Insights: Vayikra 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Vayikra

To be read on 5 Nissan 5764 (March 27 )

Vayikra is the 1th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 24th overall, and 19th out of 54 in overall length.
Torah: Leviticus 1:1-5:26;
Haftorah: Isaiah 43:21-44:23 (on the theme of sacrifices)

Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

A discussion of how to bring burnt offerings of cattle, smaller animals and birds. Different types of meal offerings: burnt, baked, pan fried, deep fried, and the offering of the first grain of the season. A discussion of other types of offerings: Peace offerings could be of cattle, sheep or goats. Sin offerings are brought as an atonement. The sin offering for the high priest, then for the community, for the king or for an individual. Sins that the Torah delineates specifically as requiring a sin offering, in which cases he can choose between smaller animals, birds or a meal offering. Details about guilt offerings brought because of errors, doubtful situations or dishonesty or theft. 


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:22-23-64/Vayakhel-Pekudeh )

Rebbe Elazar opened his discourse with the verse: "Ask for yourself a sign of the Lord your G-d; ask it either in the depths or in the heights above." (Isaiah 7:11).

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:24-64/Vayikra )

Now, corresponding to these, the Holy One, blessed be He, created [five "kingdoms" in this physical world]: the silent [i.e., inanimate or mineral], the vegetable, the animal, the articulate [i.e., man], and the soul. "

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:24-64/Vayikra )

Some other reasons for the laws against forbidden relations are advanced by some of the more recent commentators. They say that there are ten emanations by means of which G-d established a physical world. He remained close to these emanations, exerting His influence on them, remaining inseparable from them.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"If you bring a meal-offering baked in the oven." (2:4)
In order to become closer to G-d, a person should arouse his innate, fiery love of Him by contemplating the greatness of the Creator. For in the same way that an oven's heat causes the liquid to separate from the dough, so too does a burning love of G-d separate a person from his attraction to material things and strengthen his connection with the infinite.
(Likutei Sichot)

"If any person sin, because he hears the voice of adjuration." (5:1)
If a Jew sees someone committing a certain transgression, it is a sure sign that the same sin exists within him. The reason G-d caused him to witness this is so that he will be able to correct his own flaw.
(The Baal Shem Tov)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:24-64/Vayikra )

Tuesday was Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the first day of the month of Nissan. This is an important day because it is when Moshe completed the Sanctuary's construction and when G-d's Presence began to dwell there. The Sanctuary was G-d's first dwelling place on earth, and its vessels were used by the Jewish people to serve G-d for over 1,000 years. Secondly, Rosh Chodesh Nissan reminds us that Pesach, the birthday of the Jewish people, is just two weeks away. The mitzvah of Pesach is to eat matzah, unleavened bread. Leavening corresponds to haughtiness and pride. Eating matzah renews within us the self-nullification (bitul) that the Jewish people felt when they were freed from slavery 3,316 years ago. From this self nullification comes our ability to serve G-d with humility the entire year.

The most proper way to serve G-d is by ridding ourselves of pride and ulterior motives, to become like a loyal subject of a king or a loving son to a parent. Chassidic thought recognizes that this is not always easy, and that most people have yet to achieve selflessness. But we should still have some realistic way to serve G-d. A child, for instance, needs to have some imminent factor to motivate him to do something not for his own immediate benefit. Similarly, for a person who has been off the spiritual track, the way to turn him around is usually not through deep theological discussions about G-d and what He expects from us. Rather, presenting Judaism in a way that the person sees personal benefit in it is a much more effective route. Even a person who is spiritually focused must sometimes use this method to overcome his evil inclination. But once he gets himself restarted, he must immediately work to become selfless again.

This is illustrated in teachings from a verse in this week's Torah portion, which always falls near Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Concerning the spice offering, we are commanded not to include any leavening or honey (2/11) in its ingredients. Leavening represents the haughtiness that prevents a person from recognizing that without G-d he cannot succeed. Just as bread dough rises, haughtiness makes a person's heart swell, blinding him to G-d's continuous assistance. Similarly, honey represents pleasure, a person's connection to the desires of the world.

The exception to the prohibition of offerings with honey is 'first produce'-korbon raishit. The Baal Shem Tov tells us that this type of offering is compared to the first rapprochement by G-d to a person who experienced some level of pride, self interest, and personal pleasure. (This even includes subtle self interest, like actions motivated because you feel you deserve to be rewarded, or because you want a place in the World to Come) Although there is a principle that from acting in self interest, a person will eventually act for G-d's sake (Pesachim, 50b), it is nevertheless important to recognize that this is a temporary allowance. A person should strive to achieve the higher level, and avoid using pride and pleasure as a spiritual technique. If a person lets his interests continue to govern his G-dly service, this is tantamount to adding leavening or honey to the spice offering, making it unfit!

Rebbe Ze'ev of Zabriz made a similar point about moving from self interest to G-dly interest. He said that this can work in reverse, too. Getting too comfortable with worldly matters with which we come in contact for G-d's sake-like extra sumptuous Shabbat meals-can lead us to wanting them all of the time, if we are not careful.

The Kotzker Rebbe interprets the prohibition of leavening and honey differently. Leavening and honey are in turn sour and sweet. Serving G-d in a sour way is like a country bumpkin, going through the motions but without any thought. Serving G-d in a sweet way is becoming too familiar, taking things for granted, like being always at home. The Talmud says, (Megillah 25a) "Who can be a friend to Heaven?"


Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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