Vayikra, VaYikra, Va-yikra, or Vayyiqra (וַיִּקְרָא — Hebrew for "and He called,” the first word in the parashah) is the 24th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the first in the book of Leviticus. It constitutes Leviticus 1:1–5:26. The parashah has the most letters and words of any of the weekly Torah portions in the book of Leviticus (although not the most verses), and is made up of 6,222 Hebrew letters, 1,673 Hebrew words, and 111 verses, and can occupy about 215 lines in a Torah scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah). (Parashah Emor has the most verses of any Torah portion in Leviticus.)
The parashah lays out the laws of sacrifices (קָרְבֳּנוֹת, karbanot).
- 1 Readings
- 2 In inner-Biblical interpretation
- 3 In classical rabbinic interpretation
- 4 In modern interpretation
- 5 Commandments
- 6 In the liturgy
- 7 The Weekly Maqam
- 8 Haftarah
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
- 11 Notes
First reading — Leviticus 1:1–13
In the first reading (עליה, aliyah), God called to Moses from the Tabernacle and told him the laws of the sacrifices. Burnt offerings (עֹלָה, olah) could be bulls, rams or male goats, or turtle doves or pigeons, which the priest burned completely on wood on the altar.
Second reading — Leviticus 1:14–2:6
Meal offerings (מִנְחָה, minchah) were of choice flour with oil, from which priest would remove a token portion to burn on the altar, and the remainder the priests could eat.
Third reading — Leviticus 2:7–16
In the third reading (עליה, aliyah), meal offering could also be cooked in a pan. Meal offerings could not contain leaven or honey, and had to be seasoned with salt. Meal offerings of first fruits had to be new ears parched with fire, grits of the fresh grain.
Fourth reading — Leviticus 3:1–17
In the fourth reading (עליה, aliyah), sacrifices of well-being (שְׁלָמִים, shelamim) could be male or a female cattle, sheep, or goats, from which the priest would dash the blood on the sides of the altar and burn the fat around the entrails, the kidneys, and the protuberance on the liver on the altar.
Fifth reading — Leviticus 4:1–26
In the long fifth reading (עליה, aliyah), sin offerings (חַטָּאת, chatat) for unwitting sin by the High Priest or the community required sacrificing a bull, sprinkling its blood in the Tent of Meeting, burning on the altar the fat around the entrails, the kidneys, and the protuberance on the liver, and burning the rest of the bull on an ash heap outside the camp. Guilt offerings for unwitting sin by a chieftain required sacrificing a male goat, putting some of its blood on the horns of the altar, and burning its fat.
Sixth reading — Leviticus 4:27–5:10
In the sixth reading (עליה, aliyah), guilt offerings for unwitting sin by a lay person required sacrificing a female goat, putting some of its blood on the horns of the altar, and burning its fat. Sin offerings were required for cases when a person:
- was able to testify but did not give information,
- touched any unclean thing,
- touched human uncleanness, or
- uttered an oath and forgot.
In such cases, the person had to confess and sacrifice a female sheep or goat; or if the person could not afford a sheep, two turtledoves or two pigeons.
Seventh reading — Leviticus 5:11–26
In the seventh reading (עליה, aliyah), if a person could not afford two turtledoves or pigeons, then the person was to bring flour for a sin-offering to the priest, and the priest would take a handful of it and make it smoke on the altar, and thereby make atonement.
Guilt offerings (אָשָׁם, asham) were required when a person was unwittingly remiss about any sacred thing. In such cases, the person had to sacrifice a ram and make restitution plus 20 percent to the priest. Similarly, guilt offerings were required when a person dealt deceitfully in the matter of a deposit or a pledge, through robbery, by fraud, or by finding something lost and lying about it. In such cases, the person had to sacrifice a ram and make restitution plus 20 percent to the victim.
In inner-Biblical interpretation
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these Biblical sources:
Leviticus chapter 1
In Psalms 50, God clarifies the purpose of sacrifices. God states that correct sacrifice was not the taking of a bull out of the sacrificer’s house, nor the taking of a goat out of the sacrificer’s fold, to convey to God, for every animal was already God’s possession. The sacrificer was not to think of the sacrifice as food for God, for God neither hungers nor eats. Rather, the worshiper was to offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon God in times of trouble, and thus God would deliver the worshiper and the worshiper would honor God.
Leviticus chapter 5
The Rabbis read Leviticus 5:21–26 together with Numbers 5:6–8 as related passages. Leviticus 5:21–26 deals with those who sin and commit a trespass against God by dealing falsely with their neighbors in the matter of a deposit, pledge, robbery, other oppression of their neighbors, or the finding of lost property, and swear to a lie. Leviticus 5:23–24 provides that the offender must immediately restore in full to the victim the property at issue and shall add an additional fifth part. And Leviticus 5:25–26 requires the offender to bring to the priest an unblemished ram for a guilt-offering, and the priest shall make atonement for the offender before God, and the offender shall be forgiven. Numbers 5:6–7 directs that when people commit any sin against God, then they shall confess and make restitution in full to the victim and add a fifth part. And Numbers 5:8 provides that if the victim has no heir to whom restitution may be made, the offender must make restitution to the priest, in addition to the ram of atonement.
In classical rabbinic interpretation
Leviticus chapter 1
Rav Assi said that young children began their Torah studies with Leviticus and not with Genesis because young children are pure, and the sacrifices explained in Leviticus are pure, so the pure studied the pure.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught that, generally speaking, the Torah required a burnt offering only as expiation for sinful meditation of the heart. And a Midrash taught that if people repent, it is accounted as if they had gone up to Jerusalem, built the Temple and the altars, and offered all the sacrifices ordained in the Torah. And Rabbi Aha said in the name of Rabbi Hanina ben Pappa that God accounts studying the sacrifices as equal to offering them.
Rabbi Leazar ben Menahem taught that the opening words of Leviticus 1:1, “And the Lord called,” indicated God’s proximity to Moses. Rabbi Leazar taught that the words of Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked,” refer to the prophets of other nations. But the continuation of Proverbs 15:29, “He hears the prayer of the righteous,” refers to the prophets of Israel. God appears to nations other that Israel only as one who comes from a distance, as Isaiah 39:3 says, “They came from a far country to me.” But in connection with the prophets of Israel, Genesis 18:1 says, “And the Lord appeared,” and Leviticus 1:1 says, “And the Lord called,” implying from the immediate vicinity. Rabbi Haninah compared the difference between the prophets of Israel and the prophets of other nations to a king who was with his friend in a chamber (separated by a curtain). Whenever the king desired to speak to his friend, he folded up the curtain and spoke to him. (But God speaks to the prophets of other nations without folding back the curtain.) The Rabbis compared it to a king who has a wife and a concubine; to his wife he goes openly, but to his concubine he repairs with stealth. Similarly, God appears to non-Jews only at night, as Numbers 22:20 says, “And God came to Balaam at night,” and Genesis 31:24 says, “And God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night.”
The Sifra cited Leviticus 1:1 along with Exodus 3:4 for the proposition that whenever God spoke to Moses, God first called out to him. And the Sifra deduced from God’s calling “to him” in Leviticus 1:1 that God meant to speak to Moses alone, to the exclusion of even Aaron. Rabbi Judah ben Betera noted that God spoke to Moses and Aaron together in 13 passages, and to Moses alone in 13 passages, teaching that in these latter passages, Moses was then to inform Aaron. And Rabbi Jose the Galilean deduced from the use of “at the tent of meeting” in Leviticus 1:1 that every time that God spoke to Moses at the tent of meeting, God spoke to Moses alone, to the exclusion of Aaron. Rabbi Tanchum ben Chanilai found in God’s calling to Moses alone in Leviticus 1:1 proof that a burden that is too heavy for 600,000 — hearing the voice of God (see Deuteronomy 5:22) — can nonetheless be light for one. And the Sifra also deduced from Leviticus 1:1 that God’s voice, perhaps because it was subdued, resonated only within the tent itself.
Rabbi Tanhuma said in the name of Rabbi Joshua ben Korchah that Leviticus 1:1 demonstrated that out of the 10 different names that Scripture applied to Moses, God always addressed Moses by his given name.
The Mishnah deduced from Leviticus 1:3 that the offerer only effected atonement if the offerer brought the offering voluntarily, but if the offerer pledged to bring a burnt offering, the Mishnah taught that they compelled the offerer to state that the offering was voluntary. The Rabbis in a Baraita read the words “he shall offer it” in Leviticus 1:3 to teach that the congregation needed to compel the offerer to fulfill the offerer’s obligation. And the Mishnah taught that the intention of the priest conducting the sacrifice determined whether the offering would prove valid.
The Gemara interpreted the requirement of Leviticus 1:5 that the priest “dash the blood round about against the altar” to teach that the priest threw the blood against two opposing corners of the altar, thus hitting all four sides of the altar and satisfying the requirement to dash the altar “round about.”
Rabbi Eliezer (or some say Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob) taught that Nadab and Abihu died in Leviticus 10:2 only because they gave a legal decision interpreting Leviticus 1:7 in the presence of their Master Moses. Even though Leviticus 9:24 reports that “fire came forth from before the Lord and consumed the burnt-offering and the fat on the altar,” Nadab and Abihu deduced from the command of Leviticus 1:7 that “the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar” that the priests still had a religious duty to bring some ordinary fire to the altar, as well.
The Sifra deduced from Leviticus 1:10 that God occasionally began freestanding statements to Moses so as to allow Moses a pause to collect his thoughts. The Sifra generalized from this example that it was all the more appropriate for ordinary people to speak deliberately in conversation with other people.
Leviticus chapter 2
Leviticus chapter 3
The Gemara deduced from the words “And if his offering be a sacrifice of peace-offerings” in Leviticus 3:1 that for an offering to be effective, one needed to slaughter the sacrifice for the sake of its being a peace-offering.
Rabbi Judah taught that whoever brought a peace-offering brought peace to the world. Rabbi Simeon taught that they are called “peace-offerings” because all are at peace, each sharing in them. The blood and the limbs were for the altar, the breast and the thigh for the priests, and the hide and the meat for the owner.
Rabbi Simeon interpreted the term “peace-offering” (שְׁלָמִים, shelamim) in Leviticus 3:1 and after to indicate that a person could bring the offering only when “whole” (שָׁלֵם, shalem), and thus not when one was in the first stage of mourning after the death of a close relative.
Interpreting the words “And he shall . . . kill it at the door of the tent of meeting” in Leviticus 3:2, Rav Judah deduced in the name of Samuel that the priest had to kill the sacrifice when the gate was open, not when the gate was closed, and thus that peace-offerings slain before the doors of the Temple were opened were invalid.
The Mishnah taught that because the peace-offering was a sacrifice of lesser sanctity, it could be slain in any part of the Temple court. The Rabbis taught in a Baraita that the Mishnah’s rule could be derived from the words “And he shall . . . kill it at the door of the tent of meeting” in Leviticus 3:2, “And he shall . . . kill it before the tent of meeting” in Leviticus 3:8, and “And he shall . . . kill it before the tent of meeting” in Leviticus 3:13. The three verses taken together taught that all sides of the Temple court were fit for performing sacrifices of lesser sanctity.
The Gemara deduced from the words “And the priest shall make it smoke” in Leviticus 3:11 that the priest must not mix portions of one sacrifice with those of another. And the Gemara cited a Baraita to interpret the words “And the priest shall make them smoke” Leviticus 3:16 to teach that the priest had to burn all the sacrificed parts of an offering at the same time.
Leviticus chapter 4
Reading Leviticus 4:3–21, the Mishnah noted that the person who burned the bull (as well as the person who led away the scapegoat pursuant to Leviticus 16:7–10 and 26, the person who burned the bull burned pursuant to Leviticus 16:27, and the person who burned the red cow pursuant to Numbers 19:8) rendered unclean the clothes worn while so doing. But the bull (as well as the scapegoat, the other bull, and the red cow) did not itself render unclean clothes with which it came in contact. The Mishnah imagined the clothing saying to the person: “Those that render you unclean do not render me unclean, but you render me unclean.”
Tractate Horayot in the Mishnah, Tosefta, Jerusalem Talmud, and Babylonian Talmud interpreted the laws of the High Priest’s bull in Leviticus 4:1–12, the bull for a communal error in Leviticus 4:13–21, the ruler’s goat in Leviticus 4:22–26, and the sin offerings in Leviticus 4:27–5:12, and 5:17–19.
The Mishnah taught that 35 transgressions warranted excision (“the soul shall be cut off,” נִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ, nichretah ha-nefesh) if committed intentionally, and warranted bringing of a sin offering (חַטָּאת, chatat), as in Leviticus 4:2, if committed inadvertently: when a man has intercourse with (1) his mother, (2) his father's wife, (3) his daughter-in-law, (4) another man, or (5) an animal; (6) when a woman has intercourse with an animal; when a man has intercourse with (7) a woman and her daughter, (8) a married woman, (9) his sister, (10) his father's sister, (11) his mother's sister, (12) his wife's sister, (13) his brother's wife, (14) the wife of his father's brother, or (15) a menstruous woman; when one (16) serves idols, (17) dedicates children to Molech, (18) has a familiar spirit, (19) desecrates the Sabbath, (20) eats of sacrificial food while unclean, (21) enters the precincts of the Temple in an unclean state, eats (22) forbidden fat, (23) blood, (24) remnant, or (25) refuse, (26) slaughters or (27) offers up a consecrated animal outside the Temple precincts, (28) eats anything leavened on Passover, (29) eats or (30) works on Yom Kippur, compounds sacred (31) anointing oil or (32) incense, (33) uses sacred anointing oil improperly, or transgresses the laws of (34) the Passover offering or (35) circumcision.
Leviticus chapter 5
Rabbi Joshua of Siknin taught in the name of Rabbi Levi that Leviticus 5 uses the word “soul” (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) six times, corresponding to the six days of Creation. God said to the soul that all that God created in the six days of creation God created for the sake of the soul, and then the soul went and sinned! And thus, Leviticus 5:1 begins, “When a soul sins . . . .”
Tractates Nedarim and Shevuot in the Mishnah, Tosefta, Jerusalem Talmud, and Babylonian Talmud interpret the laws of vows in Exodus 20:7, Leviticus 5:1–10 and 19:12, Numbers 30:2–17, and Deuteronomy 23:24.
The Mishnah supposed that a witness, after having been cautioned about the grave responsibility of being a witness, would think that the witness should just avoid the trouble of testifying. The Mishnah taught that this is why Leviticus 5:1 says, "And he witnessed or saw or knew, if didn't say anything, he bears the sin." (And thus the witness must testify.)
The Mishnah (following Leviticus 5:7–8) taught that a sin-offering of a bird preceded a burnt-offering of a bird; and the priest also dedicated them in that order. Rabbi Eliezer taught that wherever an offerer (because of poverty) substituted for an animal sin-offering the offering of two birds (one of which was for a sin-offering and the other for a burnt-offering), the priest sacrificed the bird sin-offering before the bird burnt-offering (as Leviticus 5:7–8 instructs). But in the case of a woman after childbirth discussed in Leviticus 12:8 (where a poor new mother could substitute for an animal burnt-offering two birds, one for a sin-offering and the other for a burnt-offering), the bird burnt-offering took precedence over the bird sin-offering. Wherever the offering came on account of sin, the sin-offering took precedence. But here (in the case of a woman after childbirth, where the sin-offering was not on account of sin) the burnt-offering took precedence. And wherever both birds came instead of one animal sin-offering, the sin-offering took precedence. But here (in the case of a woman after childbirth) they did not both come on account of a sin-offering (for in poverty she substituted a bird burnt-offering for an animal burnt-offering, as Leviticus 12:6–7 required her to bring a bird sin-offering in any case), the burnt-offering took precedence. (The Gemara asked whether this contradicted the Mishnah, which taught that a bird sin-offering took precedence over an animal burnt-offering, whereas here she brought the animal burnt-offering before the bird sin-offering.) Rava taught that Leviticus 12:6–7 merely accorded the bird burnt-offering precedence in the mentioning. (Thus, some read Rava to teach that Leviticus 12:6–8 lets the reader read first about the burnt-offering, but in fact the priest sacrificed the sin-offering first. Others read Rava to teach that one first dedicated the animal or bird for the burnt-offering and then dedicated the bird for the sin-offering, but in fact the priest sacrificed the sin-offering first.)
The Mishnah taught that if one robbed another of something worth a perutah and the robber nonetheless swore that the robber did not do so, the robber was obliged to take restitution to the victim even if the robber needed to go as far as Persia. The robber could not give the restitution to the victim’s son nor to the victim’s agent, but the robber could give it to an agent of the court. If the victim died, the robber had to restore it to the victim’s heirs.
In modern interpretation
Leviticus chapter 1
Professor Jacob Milgrom, formerly of the University of California, Berkeley, read the sacrificial system in the parashah to describe the forces of life and death pitted against each other in a cosmic struggle, set loose by people through their obedience to or defiance of God’s commandments. Milgrom taught that Leviticus treats impurity as the opposite of holiness, identifying impurity with death and holiness with life. Milgrom interpreted Leviticus to teach that people could drive God out of the sanctuary by polluting it with their moral and ritual sins. But the priests could periodically purge the sanctuary of its impurities and influence the people to atone. The blood of the purification offerings symbolically purged the sanctuary by symbolically absorbing its impurities, in a victory for life over death.
|►SIN and INFIRMITY►|
Similarly, Gordon Wenham of Trinity College, Bristol, noted that the sacrificial system regularly associates sacrifices with cleansing and sanctification. Wenham read Leviticus to teach that sacrificial blood was necessary to cleanse and sanctify. Sacrifice could undo the effects of sin and human infirmity. Sin and disease profaned the holy and polluted the clean, whereas sacrifice could reverse this process. Wenham illustrated with the chart at right. Wenham concluded that contact between the holy and the unclean resulted in death. Sacrifice, by cleansing the unclean, made such contact possible. Sacrifice thus allowed the holy God to meet with sinful man.
Milgrom taught that the burnt offering in Leviticus 1 was intended for the person who wanted to present to God a sacrificial animal in its entirety either as an expression of loyalty or as a request for expiation.
Leviticus chapter 2
Milgrom believed that the cereal offering, whose description follows in Leviticus 2, was probably intended for the same purposes as the burnt offering, on behalf of the poor who could not afford entire animal offerings. Milgrom saw in the sacrificial texts a leitmotif of concern for the poor: Everyone, regardless of means, was able to bring an acceptable offering to God. Thus Leviticus 1:14–17 added birds to the roster of burnt offerings, and Leviticus 2 on the cereal offering appears immediately after Leviticus 1 on the burnt offering, implying that if a person could not afford birds, then the person could bring a cereal offering instead.
Leviticus chapter 3
Milgrom taught that in the original Priestly source ("P"), an offerer brought the well-being offering in Leviticus 3 solely out of joyous motivations like thanksgiving, vow fulfillment, or spontaneous free will. The offerer shared the meat of the offering with family and friends. Milgrom reasoned that the advent of the Holiness Code ("H") brought another dimension to the sacrifice of the well-being connected with the prohibition of consuming blood. H’s ban on nonsacrificial slaughter meant that all meat eaten as food had initially to be sanctified on the altar as a well-being offering.
Leviticus chapter 4
Milgrom taught that the rationale for the sin or purification offering in Leviticus 4:1–5:13 was related to the impurity generated by violations of prohibitive commandments, which, if severe enough, polluted the sanctuary from afar. Milgrom called this pollution the Priestly Picture of Dorian Gray: While sin might not scar the face of the sinner, it did scar the face of the sanctuary. This image illustrated a Priestly version of the doctrine of collective responsibility: When evildoers were punished, they brought the more righteous down with them. Those who perished with the wicked were not entirely blameless, but inadvertent sinners who, by having allowed the wicked to flourish, also contributed to pollution of the sanctuary. The High Priest and the leaders of the people, in particular, brought special sacrifices in Leviticus 4:9 and 23, for their errors caused harm to their people, as reflected in Leviticus 4:3 and 10:6. Thus, in the Priestly scheme, brazen sins (the leaders' rapacity) and inadvertent sins (the silent majority's acquiescence) polluted the sanctuary (and corrupted society), driving God out of the sanctuary and leading to national destruction. In the theology of the purification offering, the sanctuary needed constant purification lest God abandon it because of the people's rebellious and inadvertent sins.
Leviticus chapter 5
Milgrom taught that the guilt or reparation offering in Leviticus 5:14–26 might seem at first glance to be restricted to offenses against God's sanctum or name, but reflected wider theological implications. The Hebrew noun אָשָׁם, asham, “reparation, reparation offering,” is related to the Hebrew verb אָשֵׁם, asheim, “feel guilt,” which predominates in this offering in Leviticus 5:17, 23, and 26, and in the purification offering, as well, in Leviticus 4:13, 22, and 27; and 5:4–5. Milgrom inferred from this relationship that expiation by sacrifice depended on both the worshiper's remorse and the reparation that the worshiper brought to both God and people to rectify the wrong. Milgrom noted that if a person falsely denied under oath having defrauded another, subsequently felt guilt, and restored the embezzled property and paid a 20 percent fine, the person was then eligible to request of God that a reparation offering expiate the false oath, as reflected in Leviticus 5:20–26. Milgrom saw here Priestly lawmakers in action, bending the sacrificial rules to foster the growth of individual conscience, permitting sacrificial expiation for a deliberate crime against God (knowingly taking a false oath) provided that the person repented before being apprehended. Thus Leviticus 5:20–26 ordains that repentance converted an intentional sin into an unintentional one, making it eligible for sacrificial expiation.
Milgrom concluded that the sin or purification offering taught the "ecology of morality," that the sins of the individual adversely affect society even when committed inadvertently, and the guilt or reparation offering fostered a doctrine of repentance. Milgrom noted that Leviticus 4:1–5:13 did not prescribe the sin or purification offering just for cultic violations but in Leviticus 4:2 extended the meaning of the term “communal” to embrace the broader area of ethical violations. And Milgrom saw in the discussion of the guilt or reparation offering in Leviticus 5:24b–25 that in matters of expiation, one had to rectify one's relationship with other people before seeking to rectify one's relationship with God.
- To carry out the procedure of the burnt offering as prescribed in the Torah
- To bring meal offerings as prescribed in the Torah
- Not to burn honey or yeast on the altar
- Not to omit the salt from sacrifices
- To salt all sacrifices
- The Sanhedrin must bring an offering when it rules in error.
- To bring a sin offering for transgression
- Anybody who knows evidence must testify in court.
- To bring an offering of greater or lesser value (if the person is wealthy, an animal; if poor, a bird or meal offering)
- Not to decapitate a fowl brought as a sin offering
- Not to put oil on the meal offerings of wrongdoers
- Not to put frankincense on meal offerings
- One who profaned property must repay what he profaned plus a fifth and bring a sacrifice.
- To bring an offering when uncertain of guilt
- To return the robbed object or its value
- To bring an offering when guilt is certain
In the liturgy
The list of animals from which the Israelites could bring sacrifices in Leviticus 1:2 provides an application of the fourth of the Thirteen Rules for interpreting the Torah in the Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael that many Jews read as part of the readings before the Pesukei d’Zimrah prayer service. The rule provides that when the general precedes the specific, the law applies only to the specific. Leviticus 1:2 says, “you shall bring your offering from the domestic animals, even from the herd or from the flock.” Applying the fourth rule teaches that Israelites could bring sacrifices from no domestic animals other than cattle from the herd or sheep or goats from the flock.
During the Torah reading, the gabbai calls for the Kohen to “approach” (קרב, k’rav) to perform the first aliah, or blessing on the Torah reading, recalling the use of the word “approach” (קרב, k’rav) in Leviticus 1:5 to describe the priest’s duty to perform the sacrificial service.
Many Jews read excerpts from and allusions to the instructions in the parashah as part of the readings on the offerings after the Sabbath morning blessings. Specifically, Jews read the instructions for the priest’s sacrifices in Leviticus 1:11, the prohibition on leavening or honey in the incense in Leviticus 2:11, a discussion of the bulls that are completely burned, in reference to the instructions in Leviticus 4:8–12, and a discussion of the guilt offerings referred to in Leviticus 5:14–26.
The Weekly Maqam
In the Weekly Maqam, Sephardi Jews each week base the songs of the services on the content of that week's parashah. For parashah Vayikra, Sephardi Jews apply Maqam Rast, the maqam that shows a beginning or an initiation of something. In this case it is appropriate because Jews are initiating the book of Leviticus.
God formed the people of Israel that they might praise God, but they did not call upon God, nor did they bring God their burnt-offerings, meal-offerings, frankincense, or the fat of their sacrifices. Rather, they burdened God with their sins. God blots out their transgressions for God’s own sake. Their first father sinned, and their intercessors transgressed, and so God abandoned the sanctuary and the Israelites to condemnation.
And yet God told the people of Israel not to fear, for God would pour water upon the thirsty land, and God’s blessing upon their offspring, and they would spring up like grass. And they would call themselves the Lord’s, by the name of Jacob, and by the name of Israel.
God declared that God is the first and the last, and beside God there is no God, no One Who can proclaim what the future will be, no other Rock. Those who fashion graven images shall not profit; they shall be shamed together. The smith makes an ax, and the carpenter forms the figure of a man. He hews down cedars and oaks, and uses the same wood for fuel to warm himself and to make a god to worship. They do not know nor understand that they strive after ashes.
God called on the people of Israel to remember these things, and not forget God who formed them and blotted out their sins. God called on the heaven and earth, mountain and forest to sing, for God had redeemed Israel for God’s glory.
Connection to the Parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah address sacrifices to God. Both the parashah and the haftarah address burnt offerings ('olah), meal offerings (minchah), frankincense (levonah), and witnesses (ed or eday).
On Shabbat Rosh Chodesh
On Shabbat Zachor
Connection to the Special Sabbath
On Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath just before Purim, Jews read Deuteronomy 25:17–19, which instructs Jews: “Remember (zachor) what Amalek did” in attacking the Israelites. The haftarah for Shabbat Zachor, 1 Samuel 15:2–34 or 1–34, describes Saul’s encounter with Amalek and Saul’s and Samuel’s tretament of the Amalekite king Agag. Purim, in turn, commemorates the story of Esther and the Jewish people’s victory over Haman’s plan to kill the Jews, told in the book of Esther. Esther 3:1 identifies Haman as an Agagite, and thus a descendant of Amalek. Numbers 24:7 identifies the Agagites with the Amalekites. Alternatively, a Midrash tells the story that between King Agag’s capture by Saul and his killing by Samuel, Agag fathered a child, from whom Haman in turn descended.
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these classical sources:
- Exodus 20:7 (vows).
- Leviticus 19:12 (vows).
- Numbers 30:2–17 (vows).
- Deuteronomy 23:22–24 (vows).
- Isaiah 56:7 (sacrifices from all people).
- Jeremiah 7:22–23 (preferring obedience to sacrifices).
- Ezekiel 18:5–7 (the just does not rob).
- Hosea 14:3 (the offering of our lips instead of bulls).
- Psalm 19:13 (unknowing sin); 20:4 (burnt offerings); 40:7 (sacrifices); 50:3–23 (sacrifices of thanksgiving); 51:16–19 (sacrifices); 66:13–15 (burnt offerings); 107:22 (sacrifices of thanksgiving); 116:17 (sacrifices of thanksgiving).
- The Wisdom of Ben Sira 50:1–29. Jerusalem, circa 180 BCE.
- Philo. Allegorical Interpretation 3:48:143–49:144; On the Birth of Abel and the Sacrifices Offered by Him and by His Brother Cain 36:118; On the Posterity of Cain and His Exile 35:123; On Mating with the Preliminary Studies 30:169; On the Change of Names 41:234; On Dreams, That They Are God-Sent 1:14:81, 2:10:71, 44:296; The Special Laws 1: 37:199, 42:233, 43:236, 53:289; 2: 6:26; 4: 23:119, 123. Alexandria, Egypt, early 1st century CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge, 66, 108, 144, 319, 361, 372, 393, 409, 553, 556, 561, 570, 627–28. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1993. ISBN 0-943575-93-1.
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 3:9:1–4. Circa 93–94. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by William Whiston, 94–95. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1987. ISBN 0-913573-86-8.
- Mishnah: Berakhot 1:1; Shekalim 6:6; Nedarim 1:1–11:12; Bava Kamma 9:7; Sanhedrin 4:5; Shevuot 1:1–8:6; Horayot 1:1–3:8; Zevachim 1:1–14:10; Menachot 1:1–13:11; Chullin 1:4, 7:1; Arakhin 5:6; Keritot 1:2, 2:4, 4:3, 6:6–9; Kinnim 1:1–3:6; Parah 1:4. Land of Israel, circa 200 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 3, 261, 406–30, 524, 591, 616, 620–39, 689–766, 779, 817, 837, 839, 845, 849–50, 883–89, 1014. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
- Tosefta: Peah 3:8; Demai 2:7; Challah 2:7; Bikkurim 2:1; Kippurim (Yoma) 1:5; Nedarim 1:1–7:8; Bava Kamma 7:5; Makkot 5:2–3; Shevuot 1:6–3:8; Horayot 1:1–2:13; Zevachim 1:1–13:20; Menachot 1:1–13:23; Chullin 9:14; Keritot 2:13–15. Land of Israel, circa 300 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:65, 85, 339, 348, 542, 785–805; 2:987, 1214, 1219–44, 1295–1369, 1401–02, 1429–30, 1437, 1453, 1562–63 1563. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
- Sifra 1:1–69:1. Land of Israel, 4th century CE. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifra: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:65–345. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-205-4.
- Jerusalem Talmud: Berakhot 8a; Terumot 31b, 71b; Challah 7a, 8a, 33a; Shabbat 23a; Pesachim 18a, 36b, 37a, 38a–b, 43a, 78b; Yoma 2a, 8a, 11a–b, 12b, 14b, 16b–17a, 32a, 37a, 38b, 45b, 47a; Megillah 16a, 34b; Nedarim 1a–; Sanhedrin 8a, 10a, 23a–b, 28b; Shevuot 1a–; Horayot 1a–. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, volumes 1, 7–8, 11, 13, 18–19, 21, 26. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2005–2013.
- Leviticus Rabbah 1:1–7:1; 8:4; 10:3; 22:10. Land of Israel, 5th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, 4:1–88, 90, 104, 124, 288. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 2a, 5a, 31b, 37b; Shabbat 2a–3a, 15a, 25a, 26b, 38a, 68b–69a, 70a, 71b, 103a, 108a; Eruvin 2a, 30b, 57a, 104a; Pesachim 16b, 32b–33a, 36a, 40a, 43b, 57b, 59a, 62a, 63b, 64b–65b, 66b, 73a, 77b, 83a, 89a, 96b; Yoma 4b–5a, 15b, 20a, 21b, 24a–b, 25b, 26b–27a, 36a–37a, 41a, 44a, 45a, 47a–48a, 50a, 53a, 56b–57b, 58b–59a, 62b, 67b–68b, 73a, 74a, 80a, 85b; Sukkah 30a, 48b, 49b, 56a; Beitzah 20a, 25a, 39a; Rosh Hashanah 5b–6a, 28a, 33a; Taanit 22b; Megillah 8a, 9b, 16a, 20b; Moed Katan 17b; Chagigah 2a, 6a–b, 7b, 10a–11a, 16b, 23b; Yevamot 8b–9a, 32b, 34a, 35b, 83b, 87b, 90a, 100a, 101b, 106a; Ketubot 5b, 30b, 42a–b, 45a, 60a, 106a; Nedarim 2a–91b; Nazir 9b, 23a, 24a, 25a, 27b–28a, 29a, 35a, 36a, 38a, 45a, 47b, 62b; Sotah 14a–15a, 23a, 32a, 33a, 37b, 44b, 46b; Gittin 28b, 71a, 74a; Kiddushin 14a, 24b, 36a–b, 37b, 44a, 50a, 52b–53a, 54b–55a, 57b, 81b; Bava Kamma 2a, 3b, 4b, 9b, 12b–13a, 20b, 40b, 56a, 63b, 65a–67a, 71a, 79b, 86b, 91b, 93a, 94b, 98a–b, 101a, 103a–06b, 108a–b, 110b–11a, 112a, 117b; Bava Metzia 3b, 36a, 43a–b, 48a, 54b–55b, 58a, 104a, 111a–b; Bava Batra 26b, 74b, 79a, 88b, 120b, 123b; Sanhedrin 2a, 3b–4b, 13b–14a, 18b, 30a, 34b, 37b, 42b, 47a, 52a, 61b–62a, 83a, 84a, 87a, 101a, 107a; Makkot 13a, 16a, 17a–19a; Shevuot 2a–49b; Avodah Zarah 24b, 29b, 42b, 44a; Horayot 2a–14a; Zevachim 2a–120b; Menachot 2a–110a; Chullin 2b, 5a–b, 11a, 13a–b, 17a, 19b–22b, 27a–b, 30b, 37a, 49a, 61a, 70b–71a, 85a, 90a, 93a, 117a, 123b, 132b, 133b; Bekhorot 15b, 41a–42a, 43b, 53b, 61a; Arakhin 2a, 4a, 17b–18a, 20b–21a; Temurah 2a–3b, 6a, 8a, 15a–b, 17b–18b, 19b–20a, 22a, 23b, 28a–29a, 32b; Keritot 2a, 3a, 4a–5a, 7a–b, 9a, 10b, 11b–12b, 18b–19b, 22a–b, 23b, 24b, 25b–28b; Meilah 2b, 8a–b, 9b–10a, 15a, 18a–b, 19b–20a; Tamid 28b, 29b, 31b; Niddah 28b, 41a, 70b. Babylonia, 6th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 vols. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.
- Rashi. Commentary. Leviticus 1–5. Troyes, France, late 11th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, 3:1–57. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1994. ISBN 0-89906-028-5.
- Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 3:60. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Intro. by Henry Slonimsky, 184. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah. Chapter 1, ¶ 1. Egypt. Circa 1170–1180. Reprinted in, e.g., Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Teshuvah: The Laws of Repentance. Translated by Eliyahu Touger, 6–7. New York: Moznaim, Publishing, 1990. ISBN 0940118-48-9.
- Zohar 3:2a–26a. Spain, late 13th century.
- Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 3:40, 42. England, 1651. Reprint edited by C. B. Macpherson, 503–04, 572. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Classics, 1982. ISBN 0-14-043195-0.
- Roland De Vaux. Studies in Old Testament Sacrifice. University of Wales Press, 1964. ISBN 0708303463.
- George Buchanan Gray. Sacrifice in the Old Testament: Its Theory and Practice. Ktav Publishing House, Reprint edition, 1971.
- Jacob Milgrom. “Sacrifices and Offerings, OT,” and “Wave offering.” In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Supp. vol., 763–71, 944–46. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1976. ISBN 0-687-19269-2.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus 1–16, 3:129–378. New York: Anchor Bible, 1998. ISBN 0-385-11434-6.
- Alan Lew. This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, 108–09. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2003. ISBN 0-316-73908-1.
- Suzanne A. Brody. “A Priest’s Expiation.” In Dancing in the White Spaces: The Yearly Torah Cycle and More Poems, 85. Shelbyville, Kentucky: Wasteland Press, 2007. ISBN 1-60047-112-9.
- "Torah Stats — VaYikra". Akhlah Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Vayikra/Leviticus. Edited by Menachem Davis, 2–29. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2008. ISBN 1-4226-0206-0.
- Leviticus 1:1.
- Leviticus 1:3–13.
- Leviticus 1:14–17.
- Leviticus 2:1–6.
- Leviticus 2:7–10.
- Leviticus 2:11–13.
- Leviticus 2:14.
- Leviticus 3:1–16.
- Leviticus 4:1–21.
- Leviticus 4:22–26.
- Leviticus 4:27–31.
- Leviticus 5:1–4.
- Leviticus 5:5–10.
- Leviticus 5:11–13.
- Leviticus 5:14–15.
- Leviticus 5:16.
- Leviticus 5:20–22.
- Leviticus 5:22–26.
- For more on inner-Biblical interpretation, see, e.g., Benjamin D. Sommer. “Inner-biblical Interpretation.” In The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 1829–35. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
- Psalm 50:9–11.
- Psalm 50:12–13.
- Psalm 50:14–15.
- See, e.g., Mishnah Bava Kamma 9:5–12. Tosefta Bava Kamma 9:19, 10:1–5, 17–18. Babylonian Talmud 103a–11a.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:3.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:3.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:2.
- Leviticus Rabbah 7:3.
- Genesis Rabbah 52:5.
- Sifra 1:1.
- Sifra 2:1.
- Leviticus Rabbah 1:1, 4.
- Sifra 2:2.
- Leviticus Rabbah 1:3.
- Mishnah Arakhin 5:6. Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 21a.
- Mishnah Zevachim 1:1–2:5. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 699–703. Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 2a.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 53b.
- Babylonian Talmud Eruvin 63a.
- Mishnah Berakhot 1:1; Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 2a.
- Sifra 1:3.
- Mishnah Zevachim 1:1–14:10; Tosefta Zevachim 1:1–13:20; Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 2a–120b.
- Mishnah Kinnim 1:1–3:6.
- Mishnah Menachot 1:1–13:11; Tosefta Menachot 1:1–13:23; Babylonian Talmud Menachot 2a–110a.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 4a.
- Sifra 28:1.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 99b; Sifra 28:1:3; Leviticus Rabbah 9:8.
- Babylonian Talmud Yoma 62b.
- Mishnah Zevachim 5:7.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 55a.
- Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 64b.
- Mishnah Chullin 7:1; Babylonian Talmud Chullin 89b.
- Mishnah Parah 8:3.
- Mishnah Horayot 1:1–3:8; Tosefta Horayot 1:1–2:13; Jerusalem Talmud Horayot 1a–; Babylonian Talmud Horayot 2a–14a.
- Babylonian Talmud Yoma 36b.
- See Leviticus 18:6.
- Mishnah Keritot 1:1–2; Babylonian Talmud Keritot 2a.
- Leviticus 5:1, 2, 4, 15, 17, and 21.
- Leviticus Rabbah 4:2.
- Mishnah Nedarim 1:1–11:12; Tosefta Nedarim 1:1–7:8; Jerusalem Talmud Nedarim 1a–; Babylonian Talmud Nedarim 2a–91b; Mishnah Shevuot 1:1–8:6; Tosefta Shevuot 1:1–6:7; Jerusalem Talmud Shevuot 1a–; Babylonian Talmud Shevuot 2a–49b.
- Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5.
- Mishnah Zevachim 10:4. Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 89a.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 90a.
- Leviticus Rabbah 3:2.
- Mishnah Bava Kamma 9:5–12. Tosefta Bava Kamma 9:19, 10:1–5, 17–18. Babylonian Talmud 103a–11a.
- Mishnah Bava Kamma 9:5. Babylonian Talmud 103a–b.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 13. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8006-9514-3.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 12.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 9.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 12.
- Gordon J. Wenham. The Book of Leviticus, 26. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1979. ISBN 0-8028-2522-2. (citing Exodus 29:36–37 and Leviticus 4–5; 8:11–15, 23–30; 14:6–32; and 16:19.)
- Gordon J. Wenham. The Book of Leviticus, 26.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 14. (citing Leviticus 1:4).
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 14.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 16.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 14. (citing Leviticus 7:11–17).
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 14. (citing 1 Samuel 1:4 and 1 Samuel 9:21–24).
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 14. (citing Leviticus 17:3–7).
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 15.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 15.
- Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, 16.
- See Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 2:3–73. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1984. ISBN 0-87306-296-5.
- Leviticus 1:3.
- Leviticus 2:1.
- Leviticus 2:11.
- Leviticus 2:13.
- Leviticus 2:13.
- Leviticus 4:13.
- Leviticus 4:27.
- Leviticus 5:1.
- Leviticus 5:7-11.
- Leviticus 5:8.
- Leviticus 5:11.
- Num. 5:15.
- Leviticus 5:16.
- Leviticus 5:17-18.
- Leviticus 5:23.
- Leviticus 5:25.
- Menachem Davis. The Schottenstein Edition Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals with an Interlinear Translation, 244. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-57819-697-3.
- Davis. Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals, at 368.
- Davis. Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals, at 221–22.
- Davis, at 228.
- Davis, at 236.
- Davis, at 239.
- Isaiah 43:21–24.
- Isaiah 43:24.
- Isaiah 43:25.
- Isaiah 43:27–28.
- Isaiah 44:1–4.
- Isaiah 44:5.
- Isaiah 44:6–8.
- Isaiah 44:7–11.
- Isaiah 44:12–13.
- Isaiah 44:14–17.
- Isaiah 44:18–20.
- Isaiah 44:21–22.
- Isaiah 44:23.
- Leviticus 1:3–4, 6, 9–10 13–14, 17; 3:5; 4:7, 10, 18, 24–25, 29–30, 33–34; 5:7, 10; Isaiah 43:23.
- Leviticus 2:3, 5–11, 13–15; 5:13; Isaiah 43:23.
- Leviticus 2:1-2, 15–16; 5:11; Isaiah 43:23.
- Leviticus 5:1; Isaiah 44:8.
- Deuteronomy 25:17.
- Esther 1:1–10:3.
- Seder Eliyahu Rabbah ch. 20; Targum Sheni to Esther 4:13.