Vayikra (March 8, 2014)
(1) The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: (2) Speak to the Israelite people, and say to them: When any of you presents an offering of cattle to the LORD, he shall choose his offering from the herd or from the flock. (3) If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall make his offering a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, for acceptance in his behalf before the LORD. (4) He shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, that it may be acceptable in his behalf, in expiation for him.
Excerpted from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, Revised Edition, editor W. Gunther Plaut (NY: URJ Press, 2005). Used by permission of URJ Press, www.urjbooksandmusic.com.
Elizabeth F. Stabler,
“Good morning, my loves,” said Elisheva. “How kind of you to help your little brother. May I join you?” “Safta, would you? It will be more fun that way,” said Michal. “First I will ask Beset to fetch me the wool sorting baskets,” Elisheva said as she went in search of one the handmaids. “God has put Saba, Uncle El’azar and our father in charge of all the offerings,” Ra’yah explained to Eli. “You will be a priest like them when you grow up.”
By Ed Brambley
from Cambridge, UK
(It’s a Big New World)
via Wikimedia Commons
“Father said I was old enough to start learning. It’s so confusing, Safta,” admitted Eli, looking abashed. Elisheva smiled reassuringly, “Everyone thinks so at first. If we ask you some questions, I think you’ll see how much you’ve already learned, Eli. What is the first thing the person bringing an animal from the herd of the flock must do first?” Eli beamed, “He has to put his hand on the head of the animal.” “That’s correct, Eli,” said Elisheva. “Do you know that it helps calm the animal and reminds the person that a living creature is about to be sacrificed? Here’s another question: Can an imperfect, blemished animal ever be offered to God?” Again Eli smiled. “No, only perfect animals can be used,” he said. “I also learned that for all time and everywhere we are not allowed to eat fat or blood.”
“What is the reason to make a burnt offering, the offering we bring close?” asked Michal. “We burn it to make a pleasant odor so God will be kind to the people who are trying to find favor,” Eli answered.
“Very good, Eli,” Elisheva said. But before she could continue, Ra’yah broke in, “Eli, do you know where most of our family’s food comes from?” “No,” her little brother answered. “It is from the sacrifices people make to God.” “So, it’s good that all the first fruits don’t get burned, right?” he asked. “Yes, and only a portion of the yummy parched new green wheat, the frikeh, that is offered after the wheat harvest is burnt,” Michal chimed in. Elisheva agreed, “That is one of my favorites, too, especially when mixed with frankincense and oil.” She looked down and moved one lock to another basket. “That’s better.”
By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen
(List of Koehler Images)
By Peter Presslein
(Photo taken by Peter Presslein)
“Besides sin offerings and burn offerings, can you think of any kind of sacrifice?” Michal asked. “There are shalom offerings,” Eli responded. “Father said they are sacrifices of well-being, and people can bring either a male or female sheep or goat.”
Elisheva asked, “Eli, is there anything else people can bring to offer to God?” “Yes!” he said proudly. “They can bring meal offerings. The flour must be mixed with oil and salt and sometimes with frankincense.” “Can the grain be sprouted or spoiled?” “No,” Eli answered, “it has to be fresh, with no fermen…” He hesitated and Elisheva completed, “Fermentation.” “Date honey is not allowed, either,” he added. Elisheva asked, “What do the priests do with the meal offerings?” “Well, some meal is burnt as a memorial, and we eat the rest. I mean our families eat the rest.”
Ra’yah said, “It seems strange that the priests get more food and animals skins the more people sin before God or seek God’s favor. But then, God’s laws make it possible for those who have the least to bring something they can afford, like turtledoves or pigeons. They are always burnt up, and the priests don’t get to eat them.”
|Turtledove in Israel
Tatzpit: Lior Kislev
As they made long, loose ropes from the wool in each basket, Elisheva said, “People tell me that bringing sacrifices to God makes them feel purged, of the contamination they felt had interfered with their relationship with God. They feel as though they are making amends, even if they were aware of what they had done while they were doing it.”
“The guilt offerings, when people have done something obviously wrong, are really important,” said Michal. “They can smooth over differences between people.” “Just knowing I would have to take a she-lamb and female hairy goat out of our flocks in addition to a one-fifth extra portion of silver to make up for something like not returning property a person had left with me for safe keeping would make me behave,” said Ra’yah. Elisheva said, “The public acts of seeking favor, admitting guilt, purging errors and seeking peace bring us together and make us all realize we are the people of God.”
She hugged her granddaughters as they left to return to their own family’s tent. She gathered the wool and went to find Beset.
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