Vayikra (He Called)

Torah Reading: Leviticus 1:1-5:26

Prophet’ Reading: Isaiah 43:21-44:23

Apostles’ Reading: Hebrews 10:1-1


Jesse’s Thoughts

Insight #1: Ten times during this Parsha, HaShem commands us that we are to give Him our best. He does this by asking for our sacrifices “without blemish,” as in, not those that are maimed or bruised, but those that we would prefer to keep for ourselves.

This lesson became especially clear when viewed in light of the Prophet’s Reading for Shabbat Zachor, or the Sabbath of Remembrance, which falls on the Sabbath prior to Purim. Instead of the standard Prophet’s Reading for this Parsha, we read 1 Samuel 15, which covers an incident in which King Saul took the best of the Amalekites’ sheep and cattle instead of slaughtering them all. Saul took the best of his enemy’s livestock on the pretense of being able to offer them to God; however, God did not want command Israel to offer the best of their enemy’s livestock, but the best of their own. By taking the best of his enemy’s livestock, Saul was likely attempting to circumvent his responsibility to give of the best of what he had.

So why was Saul’s sin so grievous in God’s eyes? Look at it this way: if our devotion to God is not heartfelt, then we can very easily justify giving God something that is second best. (See Malachi 1:6-14) However, when we intentionally give God the best of something, and keep the worst for ourselves, it is as if we are making a public acknowledgment that He is real, and that He is King.

Insight #2: Now most of the Parsha is comprised of God giving specific legislation pertaining to the conduct of the Levitical priests, and how they are to perform burnt offerings, (Leviticus 1) grain offerings, (Leviticus 2) well-being offerings, (Leviticus 3) offerings for unintentional sins, (Leviticus 4) and offerings of restitution. (Leviticus 5:14-19)

Then beginning of the fifth chapter switches gears, and goes on to describe four specific unintentional sins: failing to testify in a case where one should testify, touching the carcass of an unclean animal, coming in contact with human uncleanliness, and making a rash oath. (Leviticus 5:1-4) I believe there is a close parallel here between these four specific sins. Just as the middle two bring uncleanliness in the body from touching defiling things, the first and the last bring uncleanliness of the heart from speaking defiling words. I believe there is a parallel here in the Father’s eyes not only because all four sins are sandwiched together in the text, but also because the recompense for all four sins is the same. (Leviticus 5:5-6)

Let this be a good lesson to us all that we aught to guard our words and conduct as closely as we guard ourselves from all manners of uncleanliness.

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