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[God] Called Out

The Eternal One called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: "Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When any of you presents an offering of cattle to the Eternal: You shall choose your offering from the herd or from the flock." - Leviticus 1:1-2


God instructs Moses on the five different kinds of sacrifices that were to be offered in the sanctuary:

    • The olah or "burnt offering" was a voluntary sacrifice that had a high degree of sanctity and was regarded as the "standard" offering. The entire animal, except for its hide, was burned on the altar. (1:1-17)
    • The minchah or "meal offering" was a sacrifice made of flour, oil, salt, and frankincense that was partly burned on the altar and partly given to the priests to eat. (2:1-16)
    • The zevach sh'lamim or "sacrifice of well-being" was a voluntary animal offering from one's herd, sometimes brought to fulfill a vow. (3:1-17)
    • The chatat or "sin offering" was an obligatory sacrifice that was offered to expiate unintentional sins. This offering differs from the others in the special treatment of the blood of the animal. (4:1-5:13)
    • The asham or "penalty offering" was an obligatory sacrifice of a ram that was required chiefly of one who had misappropriated property. (5:1-26)

When do we read Vayikra?

2015 Mar 21 /1 Nisan, 5775
2016 Mar 19 /9 Adar II, 5776
2017 Apr 1 /5 Nisan, 5777


  • By Robert Tornberg

    Reading much of the Book of Leviticus (Vayikra, the third Book of the Torah), and its first parashah – also called Vayikra – can feel like searching for meaning through smoke as thick as that produced by the very sacrifices the book and our parashah describe. It is dense, repetitious, and seemingly relates little to our lives.

    In this portion we learn about the various laws pertaining to the five types of sacrifices offered by Jewish worshippers for over a thousand years. These sacrifices took place in the portable sanctuary – the Tabernacle or "Tent of Meeting" in the wilderness – and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. They included:

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