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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?

2016 Mar 19 /9 Adar II, 5776
2017 Apr 1 /5 Nisan, 5777
2018 Mar 17 /1 Nisan, 5778


  • By Richard N. Levy

    The Book of Exodus concludes with Moses setting up the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, so that God might dwell in the midst of the people (Exodus 25:8). The text says that Moses put the pieces together as God had commanded him, but how could Moses - and the people - be sure he had done it correctly? Would they experience God in their midst? And how?

    The Book of Exodus does not tell us. But once we open the Book of Leviticus - Vayikra, in Hebrew - and read its first portion - also called Vayikra - our suspense ends.Vayikra el-Moshe vay'dabeir Adonai eilav, "And a call came to Moses, and Adonai spoke to him" (Leviticus 1:1). That the Tabernacle was now a place where God could call to Moses indicates that Moses had indeed put it together correctly.

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