Vayikra / And He Called
Leviticus 1:1-5:26 (6:7)
Haf Torah Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Brit Chadasha Hebrews 10:1-18
In Vayikra, the beginning of the third book of the Torah, we learn of the five different types of offerings. The Burnt Offering, The Grain Offering, The Fellowship Offering, The Sin Offering and The Guilt Offering.
The Burnt Offering was a voluntary act of worship and atonement for sin. It was an expression of devotion, commitment and surrender. The offering was to be a bull, ram or male bird without defect and was to be totally consumed.
The Grain Offering was also a voluntary act of worship, in recognition of God’s goodness and provision. The Grain Offering was also an expression of devotion to God. The offering was grain, fine flour, olive oil, salt and incense. It was to contain no yeast or honey and could be baked, fried or uncooked.
The Peace or Fellowship Offering was also a voluntary act of worship which represented thanksgiving to God. The offering was to be any animal from the herd without defect or a variety of breads.
The Sin Offering was a mandatory atonement for a specific sin, a confession of sin, a forgiveness of sin and cleansing from defilement. The offering was to be a bull for the High Priest and nation, a male goat for the leader, a female goat or lamb for a person, a dove or pigeon for the poor, and a tenth ephah of flour for the very poor.
The guilt offering was a mandatory atonement for a specific sin. It was to make restitution and to be a defilement cleansing. The offering was to be a ram without defect.
Over two thousand years later, it is hard to relate the beginning chapters of the book of Leviticus to the present time we live in. What exactly is an offering to God? What exactly is it that we give God when we offer a sacrifice? How do we even offer a sacrifice?
Leviticus 1:1-2 ‘Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.’
This is the way the verse reads when translated from Hebrew to English. However, in Hebrew the word order of the sentence is strange and unexpected. We would expect to read: adam mikem ki yakriv, “when one of you offers a sacrifice”. Instead what the Hebrew really reads is: adam ki yakriv mikem, “when one offers a sacrifice of you”. The essence of sacrifice, said R. Shneor Zalman, is that we offer ourselves. We bring to God our energies, our thoughts and emotions. We deny ourselves. The real sacrifice is mikem, “of you”. We give God something of ourselves. We obey the Shema when we offer a sacrifice….Hear O Israel, The Lord is One…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul…
Leviticus 1:1-2 in the Hebrew reads:
‘דַּבֵּ֞ר dabber speak / אֶל־ el to / בְּנֵ֤י be’ne sons / יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ Yisrael Israel
וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ ve’a-mar-ta and say / אֲלֵהֶ֔ם a/le-hem to them / אָדָ֗ם a’dam anyone
כִּֽי־ ki when / יַקְרִ֥יב yaq-rib brings / מִכֶּ֛ם mik-kem of you / קָרְבָּ֖ן qar-ban an offering
לַֽיהוָ֑ה YHWH to Yahweh …’
When we offer ourselves, when the sacrifice is of us, we give our lives to God. The prophet Samuel breaks it down to what is the sacrifice, ‘So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’ 1Samuel 15:22.
Psalm 51:17 says ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.’
Our bodies are a living sacrifice, ‘“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” Romans 12:1.
Our praise is a sacrifice ‘“Through Yeshua therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess His Name” Hebrews 13:15.
The theme of Sefer Vayikra (The Book of Leviticus) is korbanos, the sacrifices brought in the Tabernacle and, later, in the Temple. It was a Divine service of the Israelites to accommodate the transition of the people going from the extreme lies of idol worship to the extreme truth of worshipping one true God. Prayer, Torah study and walking in the ways of Elohim is the ultimate way to serve God and come closer to Him, for those methods involve our heart, soul and mind. At the same time, we are created with physical needs and therefore driven to relate to God in a physical, tangible way. We are a tangible, physical people learning to walk in the spiritual and we need both physical and spiritual oneness with God.
Vayikra is a book that opens the door to the nefesh; the soul. It is through Vayikra that we learn the importance of the offering, which is the gift of ourselves unto Elohim.
May you be blessed as you begin your study of Vayikra.