"and He called"
This week we began studying the book of V’yikra, the third of the five books of Torah. Most English bibles call this third book of Mosheh Leviticus, from a Latin term that means pertaining to the Levites. As we will see in our studies, however, this book contains laws for all of His people, not just the sons of Aharon and the Levitical priesthood.
The first fifteen chapters of V’yikra are some of the most difficult to relate to our lives today. This is because they include such topics as the various sacrifices and offerings, the laws of kashrut and the laws concerning the unique affliction known as tza’arat, often mistranslated as leprosy.
The challenge we will face over the next four or five weeks is to understand how to apply the laws in these parshiyot to our lives today. It would be easy to do as so many have done and simply dismiss them as no longer applicable. After all, the Temple was destroyed more than two thousand years ago and we now have the Messiah’s sacrifice to atone for our sins. Such an attitude creates a multitude of problems. The Messiah warned till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done.Matt.5.18
Coupled with the teachings of both Y’H’V’H and the Messiah that states, Man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of Y’H’V’HDvarim 8.3;Matt.4.4 it becomes very clear that none of the laws of Torah can be dismissed as no longer applicable. Also, once we start deciding which laws to keep and which ones to discard, where do we stop? Or, once we start deciding which of our Father’s Word we will listen to and which of His Words we going to ignore, where will that lead us. So must rise to the challenge of learning how to guard these commandments, not whether to or not.
With that said we must also realize that we cannot bring a bull or any other animal before the Tent of Appointment or the Temple. We can’t sacrifice it or have the kohanim lay its parts in order on the fire of the Altar of the Sacrifices. That is simply not physically possible in our world today. What we can do is study and in studying realize that while we cannot fulfill the letter of the law, there are ways to fulfill the spirit of these laws.
Par’sha V’yikra, which shares the same name as the book (or sefer), spans V’yikra 1.1 through 6.7. The opening word of the par’sha, v’yikra, is one of the many jots and tittles the Messiah referred to in teaching from the Mount of Beatitudes. V’yikra is spelled with an small aleph that is suspended from the top of the line. וַיִּקְרָא Not surprisingly, scholars are divided over the meaning of this small aleph, but most agree it points to Mosheh’s humility at being called by Y’H’V’H to speak to His people.
The Masorites noted that there were one-hundred and eleven verses in the par’sha. That number corresponds to the numerical value of the word d’u’el דְּעוּאֶל - to know El. In a way, this sums up this week’s par’sha. This par’sha is about knowing and drawing closer to Y’H’V’H. It contains two categories of offerings: voluntary and mandatory. Given man’s propensity to sin it would seem logical that Y’H’V’H would begin with the mandatory offerings to atone for our sin and then give the voluntary offerings we could bring. Instead, with the possible exception of the first offerings listed, Y’H’V’H begins with the voluntary and then gives the mandatory. This may be because it is our Father’s desire that we master sin so that the mandatory offerings would no longer be necessary. Sh’muel once asked, Does Y’H’V’H delight in ascending offerings and slaughterings, as in obeying the Voice of Y’H’V’H? Look, to obey is better than a slaughtering, to heed is better than the fat of rams.Sh’muel א 15.22
In V’yikra 1.1-2 Y’H’V’H calls to Mosheh form the Tent of Appointment, where He has just taken up residence, and tells him to speak to B’nei Isra’el saying, When anyone of you brings an offering to Y’H’V’H, you bring your offering of the livestock, of the herd of the flock.1.2 Offering is from qorban קָרְבָּן and refers to the offering from the herd or the flock. Since this is to be our offering, it must come from our herd or flock - something that belongs to us that we are giving to Y’H’V’H.
The shoresh of qorban is the Hebrew letters קרב and this gives us a deeper understanding of this offering. This shoresh means to come close, or to approach. This qorban offering requires that we give something that belongs to us and in doing so we draw closer to Him. Ya’akov taught that if we will draw near to Y’H’V’H, He will draw near to us. This requires that we first cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.Ya’akov 4.8 This offering provides one way to draw closer to Y’H’V’H, but it may have also serve another purpose as well.
Notice the wording in verse three: If his offering (qorban) is an ascending offering (olah) from the herd, let him:
bring a male, a perfect one.
bring it to the door of the Tent of Appointment, for his acceptance before Y’H’V’H
he shall lay his hand on the head of the ascending offering and it shall be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.
Ascending offering is from the Hebrew olah עֹלָה, which means to rise up or to ascend. It is also called the burnt offering because this offering from the herd or the flock is the only one that is completely burned up on the Altar of Sacrifices.
The wording of the ascending offering from the herd, however, is a little different than the offering taken from the sheep, goats or birds. The offering from the herd is accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.vs.4 In contrast, Mosheh refers to the ascending offerings from the sheep, goats or birds are only as a sweet fragrance to Y’H’V’H.vs. 13,17
The use of the word atonement, from kaper כַפֵּר, is the same word used in chapter four and other passages to refer to atonement from sin. Consider the steps that must be taken in bringing a sacrifice from the herd.
the young bull was first brought to the door of the Tent of Appointment, the man laid his hand on the bull’s head and then he killed it before Y’H’V’H.
The sons of Aharon took the blood and sprinkled it all around the Altar.
The man then skinned the bull and cut it into pieces.
The sons of Aharon put fire in the Altar, arranged the wood in order on the fire and then arranged the head and the fat on the wood.
The man then washed its entrails and legs with water and
The sons of Aharon burned all of it on the Altar of Sacrifices, a sweet fragrance to Y’H’V’H.
If you compare the requirements of this voluntary offering to the mandatory offerings for sins by mistake in chapter four which made atonement for sin, you find that this voluntary offering requires even more than the mandatory offerings. In fact, it requires even more than an offering from the flocks or of birds.
But if he brought a goat or a lamb as a voluntary offering, the man killed it on the north side of the Altar, but no mention is made of him laying his hand(s) upon the animals head.
If his offering is from the birds, he brings them to the kohen who kills the birds.
The mandatory offerings that atone for sins by mistake begin in chapter four. The required offering was dependent upon who committed the unintentional sin. These offerings are a type of burnt offering, but they are called sin offerings.4.3 There are several major differences between the mandatory offerings for sins by mistake and the voluntary offering of a young bull in chapter one.
If an anointed kohen or the entire congregation of Yisra’el sins by mistake, a young bull is brought to the door of the Tent of Appointment.
In both cases, the kohen and the elders of the congregation must lay their hands on the head of the bull and kill it before Y’H’V’H
The anointed kohen takes some of its blood and sprinkles it seven times before the Veil of the Set-apart Place and places some of the blood on the Altar of Incense and the pour the rest of the blood at the base of the Altar of Sacrifices.
In both cases, the fat of the bull is taken as a sin offering, the fat that covers the entrails, all the fat on the entrails, the two kidneys, and the fat on them by the loins, and the appendage on the liver - as it was taken from the bull of the shalamim - the peace offerings. These are burned on the Altar of Sacrifices.
But the skin of the bull, and all its flesh, with its head and legs, its entrails and dung - all of the bull - is brought outside the camp to a clean place, where that ashes were poured out and it burned.
In verses 22 through 26, Y’H’V’H lists the commandments regarding what is to be done by a ruler, or leader, of Yisra’el when he sins by mistake against any of the commands of Y’H’V’H his Elohim which are not to be done, and shall be guilty. He was required to bring his offering a buck of the goats, a male, a perfect one. The procedure for sacrificing the animal was very similar.
Verses 27 through 35 address what an individual who sins my mistake must do once his sin is made known to him. He could bring a female goat, a perfect one, or a perfect female lamb to atone for his sin.
Having reviewed the mandatory offerings to atone for unintentional sins, sins we may commit by mistake, what does the voluntary offering of a young bull in chapter one atone for? What does one do when he commits a sin voluntarily? There is no sin listed that atones for a voluntary sin that a person refuses to confess, turn away from and diligently endeavor to never commit again. But what offering does a person bring when they do sincerely t’shuvah from an intentional sin?
Perhaps the answer lies in the first nine verses of chapter one. It would explain why the very first qorban listed requires the most work and must be completely consumed. We have all sinned intentionally at one time or another and we have all been convicted of those sins. The good news is our Father has made provision for even our intentional sins - but only if we turn from them. We read in Ivrim 10:26 that if we sin purposely after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins, but some fearsome anticipation of judgement and a fierce fire which is about to consume the opponents. Atonement began with the sacrifice of animals, but today is found in the Messiah’s sacrifice. The sacrifice has been transferred from animals to Him, but the principle and the heart in which it must be offered remains the same.
If you are sitting here this Shabbat and are guilty of an intentional sin that you refuse to ask forgiveness for and turn away from, you have a major problem. All sin separates a person from Y’H’V’H to one degree or another, but intentional sins even more so. That explains the need for a more complete burnt offering, it allows us to completely atone for sins we knowingly committed but are ashamed of. That repentance - turning from doing things we know He says are sins, must come first before He will accept any other offering you bring Him.
The par’sha closes by addressing other sins. In Chapter five Mosheh addresses those who:
vs. 1: hears someone swear to something and is a witness - it cannot be second hand gossip - or he has known it but does not reveal it, he shall bear his crookedness.
vs. 2-3: a being who unknowingly touches any unclean matter, or the carcass of an unclean beast, livestock or creeping creature, he is unclean and guilty. Or, if he touches uncleanness of a man, once he is made aware of any of these, he shall be guilty.
vs. 4: if he swears, speaking rashly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever he swears rashly with an oath, and it has been hidden from him, he shall be guilty.
In verses 5 through 13, Mosheh lists the steps he must complete in order to atone for any of these transgressions. Today people are prone to just pray and ask forgiveness through the Messiah’s sacrifice, but pay attention to the first step Y’H’V’H requires before such sins can be atoned for. Verse five; he shall confess that in which he as sinned. Only then can he bring the required offering for atonement.
We will discuss the category of trespasses in verses fourteen through nineteen - as well of the other sins - in this afternoon’s study, but I’ll close the midrash with the trespasses listed in chapter six, verses one through seven. For those reading a Hebrew bible this will be verses twenty through twenty-six of chapter five.
vs. 2-3: when a man commits a sin by lying to his neighbor about a deposit, a pledge, a robbery, or shall extort from his neighbor, or he has found what was lost and has lied concerning it, or did swear falsely, to that he sins in regard to any one of all these that a man does….
vs. 4-5: he shall be guilty, and he shall return what he took by robbery, or extortion, or the deposit he was given or the lost item he has found or all that he swore falsely about. He shall repay its total value and add one-fifth more to it, and give it to him whom it belongs on the day of his guilt offering.
vs. 6-7: only then can he bring his guilt offering to Y’H’V’H and receive atonement and forgiveness for whatever he did that made him guilty.
When we sin against each other, atonement and forgiveness must begin with each other and then with our Father.
We cannot fulfill every step of the letter of the law of Y’H’V’H as given in these passages, but we must learn to fulfill those we can. We must learn about confession and restoration between each other if we expect to find atonement and forgiveness from our Father. We must realize that intentional sin - purposely sinning once we know the truth - not only distances us from our Father, it robs us of the only sacrifice we have for sin.
Heaven and earth have not passed away; in fact, they never will. Neither will our Father’s Word. There will come a day when the heavens and the earth will be renewed, and so will our Father’s Word. We can start renewing His Word in our lives today. Don’t gloss over these commandments; they contain some very important lessons for living as our Father commands us to live.
2 Aviv 5775?
21 March 2015?