Weekly Reading Insights: VaYikra 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: VaYikra

To be read on 8 Adar II 5765 (March 19)

Shabbat Zachor.

Torah: Leviticus 1:1-5:6 ; Maftir Deut. 25:17-19, Haftorah: Samuel I 15:1-34 (pre-Purim)

VaYikra is the 1st Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 24th overall, and 19th out of 54 in overall length.

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:24-65/VaYikra)

So both the Priest and the Levi [were present performing their roles of joy and singing when the penitent brought his sacrifice with a broken heart and] completed the person's proper worship of G-d.

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:24-65/VaYikra)

Now it sometimes happens that when the soul of an evil man is descending [into the world to be born], and at the same time the soul of a domesticated or wild animal is being emanated [downward into a physical animal being born], the human soul is grafted onto [the soul of the animal] in order to punish it, in accordance with the decisions of the heavenly court.

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:24-65/VaYikra)

Remember that if Adam had not sinned, the whole concept of areas that are sanctified and areas that are not would not have existed. The whole earth would have been like the Garden of Eden, and every place on earth would have enjoyed a state of holiness. A return to such a situation is forecast in Jeremiah 3:16-17 where the prophet says, "In those days - declares G-d - men shall no longer speak of the Ark of the Covenant of G-d, nor shall it come to mind. They shall not mention it nor miss it, or make another." Rashi comments on this that this means that G-d promises that "all your entrances will be holy and I shall dwell therein as though it were the Ark of the Covenant."

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



When the Torah commands us to "Remember what Amalek did to you," you is in the singular form. From this we learn that Amalek, symbolic of the Evil Inclination, attacks a person who holds himself apart from the Jewish community. By contrast, a person who is active in communal affairs and identifies with his brethren will be impervious to Amalek's assault.
(Shmuot VeSipurim)


"If any one of you bring an offering to G-d." (1:2)

Chasidic philosophy interprets this verse to mean that the personal offering each one of us brings to G-d must truly be "of us," from our innermost part. Yet a person might hesitate, thinking that a mere mortal can never bridge the gap between the finite and infinite. We must therefore remember that our relationship with G-d is, in actuality, dependent only on our initiative. Once that initiative is taken, nothing can stand in the way of communion between man and G-d.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch

"They shall throw the blood on the altar all around...and the fats." (1:5, 8)
Both the blood and the fat are offered on the altar. This teaches us how to properly carry out the mitzvot. Blood symbolizes excitement, speed, and activity. Fat symbolizes laziness and inactivity. When performing a mitzva, one should do so with excitement and speed. But if one is, G-d forbid, tempted to sin, one should respond by being "lazy" and inactive.
(Sha'ar Beit Rabim)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"And he called out to Moses; and G-d spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting" (1:1)

As explained by Rashi, G-d prefaced each exchange with Moses by calling out to him, indicative of His great love. This love between G-d and Moses is symbolic of the open and loving relationship enjoyed by the Jewish people when the Holy Temple still stood and the Divine Presence rested in the Holy of Holies. This love has not diminished any during the exile; it only became less open and revealed. The way to restore the relationship with G-d to its former glory is by expressing unconditional love for our fellow Jew. If the Jewish people will be united in brotherhood and unity, G-d's love for Moses will once again be fully expressed when the dead are resurrected and the Third Holy Temple is rebuilt.

Likutei Sichot (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:24-65/VaYikra)

With Parshat Vayikra we not only begin a new weekly Torah portion, but also a new book of the Torah! Beginning a new book of the Torah hints to new beginnings in all aspects of our spiritual and physical lives. If we only could understand how new strengths are being pumped into us from on-high. What is required of us is to be flexible enough to experience and use them.

The end of last week's portion spoke about the cloud that hid the sanctuary, while this week, Vayikra begins with the words, 'And the Almighty called to Moshe'. The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that this embodies one of life's formulas, the constant movement from concealment to revelation. Rashi explains that the heavenly voice would reach only Moshe, whereas the rest of the Jewish people could not hear the voice.

The Degel Machaneh Ephraim, one of the earliest books that disseminated the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, connects this to the second Mishna in the 6th chapter of Pirkei Avot: each and every day, a divine voice calls out from Mt. Moriah saying, 'Woe to the people because their actions are an affront to the Torah!' This divine voice is our thoughts of teshuva, a return to spiritual sensibility that sparks the heart of each of us every day.

Whoever is sensitive enough to hear it, to understand and respond appropriately, is on the level of Moshe to whom "the voice would reach out only to him". Whoever ignores the small subtle voice that tries to sprout in his heart every day, does not only not change for the better, it is as though the voice did not touch him at all.

The second verse says, "When a person brings an offering from his own, 'michem'-from his own (animal). "Michem" can also be translated 'from himself'. The whole purpose of the offerings, both when the Sanctuary stood, and even more so now when each person is like a sanctuary, is to offer ourselves to G-d. We need to sacrifice the animal part of ourselves-our evil inclination which is nicknamed our animal soul-as an offering on the altar. (From Likutei Torah)

The third verse says that when a person brings an offering to the Sanctuary, it should be 'l'riztono'- 'willingly '-before G-d. The Maggid of Mezritch explains that a person should bring an offering of 'l'ritzono', HIS OWN WILL. When a person wishes to elevate himself to the highest levels of holiness that he can potentially reach, when he himself is in a sense the offering to G-d, what is the most valuable part of himself that he can offer? His own will.

This is also explained in Pirkei Avot (2/4), "Fulfill His will as you would your own will, so that He may fulfill your will as though it were His will. Set aside your will because of His will, so that He may set aside the will of others before your will."

The Maggid illustrated this with a story: Once in mid winter, Napoleon slept in a tent on the front. He had a few blankets to keep him warm. Suddenly, he woke with a terrific thirst but did not want to go out into the cold. He said to himself, 'If I, Napoleon, am so lazy, what is the difference between me and everyone else?' So he jumped out of bed and walked across the camp for a drink. When he reached the water barrels, he changed his mind. He said, 'For a little thirst I got out of bed and walked all this distance!?!? Can I not even control a little thirst? What is between me and everyone else?' He did not drink and returned to his tent. 'This,' said the Maggid, 'is what we call breaking one's will!'

Two students of the Maggid once met. One said, "What is going to be the end of it all? All of our bad deeds, where will they lead us?" His friend answered, "About our sins I am not so worried, this is why G-d gave us teshuva. What really worries me are our good deeds. When the time comes, how will we dare to raise our heads with such (poor quality of) good deeds...?

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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