Vayikra Torah Portion: Leviticus 1:1–5:26
Parshat Vayikra opens a new book of the Torah, the Book of Leviticus — a book which is quite different in tone from the rest of the Torah. After the personal narratives of the Book of Genesis and the epic national story of the Book of Exodus, the Book of Leviticus opens with the laws of sacrifices:
"And He called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice." (Leviticus 1:1–2)
And before we offer any answers about the Book of Leviticus, forgive us, but... we're going to point out another problem, which is this: We tend to assume that after the people receive the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Torah basically describes their forty years of wandering in the desert. After all, 40 years is a long time; the people covered a lot of ground, so there must be a lot of stories to tell, right? But that's not at all what the Torah actually looks like. When the Book of Exodus ends, we're told that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) is complete, that the camp is ready to travel, that God's presence will guide them from the front, and everything seems to be set for them to begin their journey to the Promised Land... and we're expecting that the very next thing that's going to happen is that they actually do begin their travels... but do you know when the camp actually takes its first step away from Mount Sinai? A whopping 36 chapters later. What is happening for all of those chapters? What account could possibly take up so much room in the Torah, and what does it teach us? Why doesn't the Book of Leviticus begin with, "And the people began their travels?"
So those are the questions. As for answers, well — you came to the right place. For your first stop, we recommend "How To Read The Book of Vayikra." In that video, Imu and David present a framework for how to make your way through this challenging book. They relate to this very question about why the Book of Leviticus does not begin with traveling, and they briefly review each
Done with that? Looking for an even more epic overview, something to comprehensively explain the link between the Book of Exodus and the Book of Leviticus? The prior video is a great start, but if you're ready to commit to some serious learning, then you'll want to check out Rabbi Fohrman's 12-part audio series, "Shattered Tablets and a Calf of God."
For your next stop, once you have a framework in your pocket for how the role that the Book of Leviticus is playing in the wider Torah, then you're ready to focus in on a specific topic — and we invite you to tackle the question of sacrifices. Or... maybe you only have 10 minutes to set aside for learning right now. Either way, you're going to want to check out "How Can We Relate To Sacrifices Today?" In that video, Rabbi Fohrman asks the questions: How can we relate to animal offerings today? Why are there all of these different kinds of sacrifices, and what are they supposed to mean? He explains his theory and shows us how we can use the idea of sacrifices to enhance and deepen our relationship with God, even if we're not bringing physical sacrifices ourselves. That's a pretty good
And if you're still looking for a
Laws of the
Laws of the different types of
Laws of the
Laws of the
Laws of the asham ("guilt offering")
As well as various laws that are sprinkled throughout, such as the prohibition of bringing leavened bread or honey onto the altar with a sacrifice and the prohibition of eating blood or