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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?

2017 Apr 1 /5 Nisan, 5777
2018 Mar 17 /1 Nisan, 5778


  • By Elyse Goldstein

    Vayikra, Leviticus, is my favorite book in the Torah. Its first portion, also called Vayikraappears to deal mainly with the priestly cult and laws of sacrifice. But our discussion will show, this describes the portion and successive ones only at the most basic, p'shat, or "simple" level. As an introduction to all the upcoming portions of Leviticus, let's look at six crucial lessons I believe are in the third book of our Torah.

    Lesson 1: It's all about communication. The Book of Leviticus starts with the word Vayikra, "and [God] called." God calls out to a human being, an extraordinary and challenging concept right at the first word. The text does not begin with the more common vay'dabeir, "[God] spoke" or vayomer, "[God] said," but rather "[God] called." Verse 2 goes on to instruct Moses to "Speak to the... Continue Reading

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